Funding earmarked for Esquimalt centennial celebrations

Concern for impact on taxpayers prompts council debate

As Esquimalt centennial volunteers waited with bated breath, council approved an early budget request to spend taxpayer dollars on the 2012 celebrations.

In a five-to-one vote, council approved allocating up to $180,730 to help cover the cost of the incorporated municipality turning 100 years old.

“Our problem right now is we’re one month gone and if we don’t get started soon, we won’t be able to deliver the goods,” Bruce Devitt, vice-chair and treasurer of the centennial celebration select committee, told council.

“If the money doesn’t come forth, well then, we’ll have to cut the suit to fit the cloth,” he said.

The dollar figure made some councillors uneasy.

It is “close to a one-per-cent increase in our budget for our tax dollars,” said Coun. Lynda Hundleby. “So I’m feeling very torn between wanting this to go forward because I think this is a very special event for Esquimalt (and) on the other hand knowing I have a fiduciary duty to ensure that we can manage.”

The committee’s budget outlines projected revenues at $174,470, through View Royal Casino funds, sponsorship, grants and merchandise sales, paving stone sales for the Centennial Walkway at Memorial Park and sales of a $30 centennial book due out in June.

Expenditures are estimated at $355,200, and include staff salaries, advertising, merchandise supplies and the creation of the book and walkway.

Centennial events will be held at least once a month to mark the occasion and a big bash is planned for Esquimalt Gorge Park on Sept. 8. “We anticipate (it) to be one of the largest events of its type held in Esquimalt,” Ritchie Morrison, Esquimalt’s centennial project manager, told council.

Some of the expense may be offset with additional grants.

A donation box at the public party could also help with the cost, Hundleby suggested.

Meanwhile, the majority on council said they had faith the committee would keep costs down.

“We only have one shot at this. Next time around we won’t be here,” said Coun. Tim Morrison. “So we want to make sure they have the appropriate resources to make it a success.”

For details on upcoming centennial celebrations, please visit www.esquimaltcentennial2012.ca.