Council deliberates on community grants and funding

Blue Mountains council members spent Wednesday morning poring through applications for community grants and funding. After much discussion on the dozens of applications and requests, they ended up with a little more than $600 left in the account.

For the most part, the discussions were more interesting than the actual amounts awarded, and put a spotlight on how they individual councillors were thinking.

Councillor Joe Halos, in particular, made it clear he was reluctant to keep funding initiatives to attract more tourism to the town.

“We’re overrun with tourists,” he said early in the meeting. “I doubt we need to do any more advertising to attract people.”

Later in the meeting, while discussing funding the Apple Pie Trail, a popular tourist program, with a grant approaching $6,000, Halos returned to the subject.

“We don’t need any more people, we have so many we don’t know what to do with them,” he said.

That resulted in some spirited debate amongst his colleagues, a number of who defended the spending. Interim chief administrative officer Sean Everitt also weighed in with some thoughts.

“The money is miniscule compared to the marketing reach,” he said.

Deputy-mayor Gail Ardiel jumped into the fray as well, stating “it’s an economic development driver, it’s a marketing tool, and that’s something we don’t have here at the town.”

“You can’t get more bang for the buck than this,” added Mayor John McKean.

Judging by the discussion, there could be an expansion coming at some point to the municipal economic development department. Several times, it was suggested the department, which currently has one staff member, could handle several of the requests that were presented to council.

The final recommendations will be approved at an upcoming council meeting.

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