During presentation of the final recommended budget to Saugeen Shores Council on February 24th, it was learned that a ‘surplus’ of $8,788 had been realized after Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit (SMART) had withdrawn its request for the additional funding.
The news opened the window to be able to give consideration to three other requests from the Saugeen Rail Trail Association (SRTA), the Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey and the Huron Shores Hospice that were brought forward by Councilor Cheryl Grace.
The SRTA had requested an additional $5,000 over and above their annual grant request of $15,000 due to increased costs. Councilor Grace pointed out the thousands of hours that volunteers in the organization commit to maintenance of the Rail Trail which has an impact on the tourism and the economy. She also added however, the important role that the Women’s House plays and that it has a projected shortfall in government funding of more than $193,000. “Huron Shores Hospice (Tiverton) is also expanding and their end-of-life care and 20 per cent of their clients are from Saugeen Shores.”
Councilor Matt Carr, who sits on the SRTA Board, recommended that it receive the additional $5,000 with the other two groups splitting the balance at $1,894 each. “The Rail Trail Association paved a section of Trail at $100,000 completely raised through fundraising, they purchased a groomer and they have a clear path for expansion.”
Councilor Dave Myette disagreed however. “I am not in favour of any additional funds going to the Rail Trail. I asked for a budget from them and we have yet to see it. I propose the entire amount be divided between the Women’s House and the Hospice. There are lots of others deserving of funds that are being overlooked, including lots of recreational organizations that do not even ask for any funding. It’s time for the Rail Trail to look at options for fundraising.”
Mayor Luke Charbonneau said that staff are in the process of working on policies around donations to organizations. “I recommend that we round the figure up to $10,000 with the balance coming from the Tax Stabilization Fund on a one-time basis and vote on the three requests individually. I suggest we give the Rail Trail the $5,000 and each of the other two organizations $2,500 each.”
All three recommendations were passed, with Councilor Myette in objection to the Rail Trail.