Esquimalt all-candidates meeting receives helping hand

Township council weighs pros and cons of funding the event

Organizers of Esquimalt’s all-candidates meeting will receive a $700 grant from the township.

Township council agreed to help the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce and the Esquimalt Residents Association cover the rising cost of renting the Esquimalt High school’s theatre, where the event will happen on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.

“We see this as a benefit to governance,” association member Karen James told council.

Still, Coun. Alison Gaul was concerned that council’s financial contribution could be viewed as a conflict of interest. Councillors Meagan Brame and Lynda Hundleby, who are seeking re-election, did not take part in the discussion or vote.

Acclaimed Mayor Barb Desjardins called the issue “a slippery slope” but said she would support the request because the meeting benefits the community.

Still, she suggested the groups need a long-term plan and other funding partners to offset future costs.

The idea to ask other groups to sponsor the event was new to Bruce Cuthbert, who is helping organize the meeting for the first time. If funding can be secured from other parties, any unused grant money will be returned to the township, he said.

“As a taxpayer I feel this is one of the most important meetings for the next three years,” said Cuthbert.