$10,000 meeting in the works

  • Oct. 10, 2013 11:00 a.m.

A few eyebrows were raised around the Port Clements council table Monday night (Oct. 7), as council members reviewed a proposal from the regional district to spend $10,000 on a one-day meeting for islands communities. “I’m ambivalent about it because I think it’s a lot of money for one session,” said councillor Ian Gould, who is also the village’s regional district representative. The $10,000 meeting would take place Feb. 26, according to the regional district’s proposal, and would involve representatives from all the islands communities and the Council of the Haida Nation, plus a professional facilititator. The regional district is applying for $5,000 from a provincial “community to community forum” program that assists with meetings between local governments and neighbouring First Nations. The program requires that the applicant provide matching funding, which is why the total budget comes to $10,000. The regional district is asking each community for $500 and has offered to provide nine days of staff time at $300 per day to organize the meeting, in order to come up with its share. According to the regional district proposal, a faciliator would be hired for the event, at a cost of $3,000, and travel costs would come to $2,000. The people who attend the meeting – an estimated 35 people – would all get dinner, at a total cost of $1,050, as well as $350 worth of snacks. The purpose of the meeting is to help the protocol communities decide how to move forward. “Although there has been a protocol agreement in place on Haida Gwaii for many years, the communities struggle to meet regularly because of lack of support and resources for organizing the meetings,” the proposal states. “The objective of this event will be to identify the best way to move forward and to develop a plan in how the protocol meetings can be organized in order to ensure continued commitment and involvement by all the communities.” Mr. Gould said he understands the challenges facing the protocol communities in getting together for regular meetings, but said he would rather see some ongoing funding, not $10,000 for a one-day event. Mayor Wally Cheer said he shared Mr. Gould’s concerns. After some discussion, council members voted to write a letter of support for the funding application and commit to spending up to $500 out of next year’s budget for the event.