Champlain Township will likely reject a request for $2,000 to support an annual Canada Day mixed slo-pitch tournament and activities at the Vankleek Hill fairgrounds, which has been spearheaded by community volunteers and the Alzheimer Society in the past as a fundraiser for the latter. But the township did agree to waive the $115 ball diamond rental fee to host the event there ; the committee of the whole did recommend waiving the cost of having township employees on-site from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The decision will be made at the March 12 council meeting; discussions at committee of the whole meetings become recommendations to council.
The Alzheimer’s Society for Cornwall and District had written a letter to the township asking for an annual amount of $2,000 which would be used to pay for inflatable structures, cotton candy, a liquor licence, the family photo booth and advertising. In exchange, the Alzheimer Society said it would do all of the planning and organizing and would provide insurance for the event. The township would have retained veto on the day’s activities if it had provided support.
The event has taken place for the past three years at the Vankleek Hill Community Centre ball diamond and was a partnership between the society and the Vankleek Hill Softball League.
The Alzheimer Society provided a financial statement from 2018 to the township.
Expenses, including tax, totalled $2,537.
L’Orignal councillor Jacques Lacelle pointed out that community grants had already been distributed and were part of the 2019 budget.
Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel thought that the township should give the $2,000 to ensure that the event continued.
“I think it’s nice that an outside group is coming here to promote activities in the township,” he said.
When Vankleek Hill councillor Peter Barton advised council that he had sat on the organizing committee, L’Orignal councillor André Roy asked if there was a conflict of interest situation.
Barton said that he felt comfortable discussing the matter as there was no pecuniary interest at stake for him or for any of the committee members involved in the event.
West Hawkesbury councillor Sarah Bigelow pointed out that the township had turned down a lot of those seeking community grants.
“What are we opening ourselves up to?” asked Bigelow, adding that the funds were not staying in the township.
“I think we have established that the Cornwall branch does service people in our region; some of the funds fall back to this area,” noted West Hawkesbury councillor Gerry Miner, who asked what budget the funds would come out of if the township agreed to support the event.
The Alzheimer Society asked for a long-term agreement in connection with the support.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there and it’s a great thing,” said Bigelow, referring to the Vankleek Hill event. Bigelow re-stated that funds had already been distributed in the form of community grants.
“I tend to agree,” said L’Orignal councillor André Roy. “We just finalized the budget. I think that Vankleek Hill is active as it is and I don’t think we need a Cornwall organization (to do this),” said Roy.
“We cut people and now we’re giving $2,000,” said Lacelle.
Champlain Township provides $4,000 to the L’Orignal volunteer firefighters to organize Canada Day festivities in L’Orignal. For several decades, Vankleek Hill volunteer firefighters organized Canada Day festivities in Vankleek Hill, but they have not done so for some time.
Longueuil councillor Violaine Tittley expressed the view that if $2,000 was given to this event, combined with $4,000 to L’Orignal and $5,000 which is received in the form of a grant for fireworks, that would amount to $11,000 being spent in the township for Canada Day.
“We had organizations asking for funds to be used for the whole year. This is $2,000 for one day,” Tittley said.
“The organization is great,” Miner said, referring to the Alzheimer Society. “But unfortunately, maybe we cannot do it this year. I think we should invite them to present before the next budget. We should encourage them to come back next year,” said Miner.
Barton offered a clarification about the Alzheimer Society.
“This is not Cornwall, it is the branch for Cornwall and includes this area and supports families here. I just wanted to say that on that specific point, it is benefiting people in our community,” Barton said.
A recommendation was made to waive fees for use of the community centre facility and the ball diamond, but not the $2,000 donation request and to indicate to the Alzheimer Society that it was encouraged to make a request next year, before budget time.
This recommendation will be on the agenda at the March 12 regular council meeting. Since election of the new council, committee meetings for each department have been discontinued, replaced by committee of the whole meetings.