As Mayor Jim Parsons noted, for something that had no dissension, that took a lot of time.
What seemed like a relatively minor decision to up a donation to the Town of Deer Lake, from a proposed $500 to $1,000, as it gets set to host the 2018 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games sparked a lengthy debate about the process during Monday night’s city council meeting in Corner Brook.
The motion, originally brought forth by Coun. Bernd Staeben, said the city had received a request from Deer Lake for the donation.
Coun. Tony Buckle then requested to add an amendment to increase the donation amount to $1,000 — citing the Games’ presence in the city, as Corner Brook’s curling facility will house that sport.
“I think this is well worth the $1,000, to help the youth,” he said. “It’s good for the city. It gets people to come here. They spend money here too.”
In a previous briefing session among councillors, it was apparently argued that the donation should be either $500, $1,000, or even nothing at all.
Coun. Linda Chaisson said most councillors agreed then that $500 was fine, an amount Parsons said was a compromise between $0 and $1,000.
Buckle said he argued for $1,000 and said he would bring it to the public meeting and let council decide if they wanted to vote on it.
Staeben argued that information should have been available to him before making the original motion. He said he supports the decision, but it should have come during the briefing session.
“I think this, collectively, doesn’t make us look like a functioning unit,” he said.
He said if council had planned on donating more money, he should have been given a heads up on it.
Parsons replied that he couldn’t control what councillors do on the floor, which Staeben said he wasn’t asking him to do.
“You made the motion, that’s fine,” Parsons said. “There was an amendment proposed on the floor and we had no choice but to vote on it. It was seconded and voted on and that’s the process.
“I apologize, but it wasn’t to throw you under the bus here.”
Parsons said that the whole point of having council meetings is so they can discuss and debate publicly what they want and don’t want for the city.
“I think we have heard a lot of arguments for why it’s a good thing,” he said.
One of those arguments was brought forth by Deputy Mayor Bill Griffin, who said he recently attended a minor hockey game to watch his grandson in Deer Lake. After the game, they visited the local A&W restaurant and the place was packed.
“This is what these tournaments do,” he said. “I understand what we’re doing here, but for me, this is new money.”
Coun. Josh Carey said though the $1,000 was not budgeted for, it would certainly not throw the city totally off budget.
Parsons said he didn’t see any point in discussing this further over “a $1,000 decision.”
In the end, all were in favour of the $1,000 donation to Deer Lake.
In a related item, the Corner Brook Curling Club requested rent relief to mechanical issues in the city-owned facility that wiped out about two months of the curling season in a motion brought forward by Carey.
The lease the club has with the city is for $11,700 for a 196-day period. The club is responsible for operational costs, including the necessary repairs to the ice plant, though the city assisted with identifying the issue.
Council then approved rental relief in the amount of $5,431.79, which represents a three-month period. The extra month was in recognition of the club’s financial difficulties due to paying for repairs to the ice plant.
Coun. Vaughn Granter and Buckle also expressed a desire for the city to take a look at the building in the spring or summer months to make sure a few existing issues such as leaks are straightened away, not just for the curlers, but also for the city’s use of the building during non-curling months.
“It’s an important asset to the city,” Granter said.