Members of the Victoria Remembrance Day Committee are angered by a proposal put forward by Victoria city council to ask the Department of National Defence and Veteran’s Affairs Canada for a refund for military events costs.
In an amendment put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt on Thursday, council voted to “engage DND/Veterans Affairs Canada officials to seek to recover costs associated with military events in the city.”
These events include Remembrance Day and Victoria Day, to which the city typically puts forward $15,200 within the Victoria Police Budget for security costs.
This year, events costs were cut from the police budget, which prompted VicPD to ask for funding for special events. This request resulted in the ensuing motion to grant the costs to police with several amendments, including the request for funding from the DND and VAC.
“I never slept all night, I can’t can’t believe how people can say things like that,” said Angus Stanfield, chairman of the Victoria Remembrance Day Committee. “To say that Remembrance Day and May 24 are military events is so asinine, they’re Canadian events.”
Stanfield said the the Remembrance Day Committee, comprised of members from several local legions, plans the entire parade on volunteer hours. No one gets paid, and the parade has very minimal costs.
The City, he added, doesn’t provide any funding for Remembrance Day aside from what is provided by the police.
“They give us zero dollars,” he said, “It’s paid for out of donations. We do it for Canadians, and it’s paid by Canadians.”
One year, he added, city hall even sent the committee a bill for noise violations on Remembrance Day. Eventually the bill was waived.
Neither the DND nor Veteran’s Affairs contributes to Remembrance Day costs in Victoria, though the CFB Esquimalt does offer volunteers and equipment, such as chairs, for Remembrance Day events.
Veterans Affairs Canada provided a statement in regards to the situation, thought it did not directly address the city’s position.
“Commemorating the service of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and those who made the ultimate sacrifice is an integral part of the work at Veterans Affairs Canada,” said Alex Wellstead, VAC press secretary.
“As such, our department works with and supports local communities, stakeholders, and youth, to provide support for commemorative monuments and activities at home and abroad – working to educate all Canadians on our country’s proud military history traditions.”
Wellstead added that in 2017/18 $2 million was used to support 200 projects across Canada for these kinds of activities.
For Stanfield, who’s lived in Victoria for nearly 70 years, it’s important for the picturesque city and its residents to remember its history.
“We live in the most beautiful, enviable country and there’s a reason we do, because people gave their lives,” Stanfield said. “If we forget what happened, then we may be doomed to repeat it.”
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