BEYOND THE HEADLINES: The price of patriotism

Richard Rolke takes a look at Coldstream's funding of Canada Day festivities

Canada Day festivities are being nickled and dimed to death.

On Monday, Coldstream council turned down a request from the volunteer organizing committee for $1,000 for the July 1 Polson Park celebration.

“We already contributed through RDNO,” said Coun. Doug Dirk.

And that is the case as all Regional District of North Okanagan member jurisdictions fund the chairperson’s discrectionary fund, which is the source of $2,000 being provided to the Vernon event.

However, to get a broader perspective of the issue, one has to look at how much each jurisdiction is actually contributing to the $2,000 based on RDNO’s 2015 tax requisition.

For Coldstream, its share of the regional district pie is $255.

That is significantly less than the $500 the municipality donated individually to Canada Day, as well as its roughly $255 portion of the RDNO package, in 2014.

Now it should be pointed out that Coldstream doesn’t have its own Canada Day celebrations.

If residents of the district want to wave the flag, they head to Polson Park and they do so by the hundreds. That means they are accessing the music, the games and other activities that contribute to the organizing committee’s budget.

Looking further at the figures, the City of Vernon is directing $1,000 individually to the celebration and also picking up $1,000 of the $2,000 RDNO contribution.

For some Vernon residents and particularly those in favour of amalgamation, all they will see is that Coldstream isn’t pulling its weight.

Of course they will also say that’s the case for the two electoral areas in Greater Vernon, who will only chip in $230 towards RDNO’s $2,000.

And it’s unfortunate that politicians have placed Coldstream and BX residents in the position of being portrayed as free-loaders.

Why there is such resistance among elected officials to rally behind the national birthday party is difficult to determine, although some of it is linked to bureaucracy.

This is the second year in a row that the Canada Day committee has failed to submit a grant request to Coldstream by council’s Sept. 30 deadline.

The volunteers were warned last year.

“They knew our process,” said Dirk.

“In the future, they need to come with a budget and go through our grant-in-aid process.”

And Dirk has a point as all jurisdictions determine months in advance what revenue they will need to function for the coming year. That process includes setting a deadline for grant applications from non-profit organizations.

By coming late to the table, the Canada Day committee is creating challenges for politicians who are trying to administer tax dollars, particularly well into the current budget cycle.

They are also sidestepping a process other groups were required to follow, and possibly some of those charities didn’t make the financial cut. åBy providing the Canada Day committee with cash at the 11th hour, other worthwhile groups are essentially being told that deadlines mean nothing.

But while the Canada Day committee needs to follow the rules, Coldstream council should have at least contributed what it did in 2014.

Yes tax dollars are finite and yes the event is in Vernon, but the reality is that some issues go beyond lines on a map and love of country should be encouraged.

Coldstream, Vernon and electoral area politicians have spent considerable time in recent years finding an equitable way to provide parks and recreation services.

And if such major obstacles can be overcome, let’s hope everyone will be on board for Canada Day 2016.


Vernon Morning Star