A Port Clements woman is criticizing the way Gwaii Trust-funded Christmas vouchers were handed out this year, saying the system needs public discussion and a complete overhaul.
Delina Myles said she was disappointed to hear that this year, as in past years, the town gave out $1,600 worth of $50 vouchers which could only be redeemed at Bayview Market, Port’s main grocery store.
Instead, she said, families who need help should get a “passport” which would allow them to purchase goods at any establishment in Port, including the post office, for example, or the gas station. The stores could then take their receipts to the village office for reimbursement.
She also suggested that the village should give more money to fewer people, saying there are perhaps two or three families in Port who are really struggling.
Ms Myles said this is just one idea, and that other Port residents may have better ones. She’s hoping that her comments will spark a public meeting to discuss the issue.
“I’m not doing this for the negative,” she said. “We should move forward and try to do things better.”
She said she was also disappointed in the reception she received from Gwaii Trust director Jack Miller, who hung up on her when she phoned to share her concerns.
“Basically we’re all human and subject to doing things we shouldn’t, but I give him a thumbs down,” Ms Myles said. “An elected representative should be there to represent the people, and to listen.”
Mr. Miller admitted he hung up on Ms Myles because her arguments were becoming repetitive. And he said he hasn’t received any other complaints about the voucher system and isn’t planning to change it.
“I was given this task at the very last moment,” said Mr. Miller, who became the Central Graham Island Gwaii Trust representative Dec. 14. “I had two days to put it together.”
Under the Gwaii Trust’s Christmas program, each community on the islands receives $10,000 in December for holiday celebrations. Port and Tlell’s share went to several Christmas parties as well as the voucher program for needy families, which was allocated $1,600.
Mr. Miller said he and Port clinic nurse Jonna Mattiesing distributed a total of 36 vouchers this year, including four left over from last year.
“I thought it was done okay this year,” he said. “The money wasn’t really needed outside of a half-dozen cases.”
How the Christmas money will be distributed next year, he said, will be up to his eight-member advisory committee, made up of four members from Tlell and four from Port (all the Port members are on the village council).
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