SCUGOG: Council has decided to grant a request from the Township’s Canada Day 150 Entertainment Sub Committee, for funding to help secure a headline act for a concert at the fairgrounds.
At a meeting on Monday, Dec. 12th, Anil Maharaj, from the sub committee, appeared before Council seeking $70,000 to secure a headline act for a event that would be held at the fairgrounds, the day before Canada Day, Friday, June 30th.
“I don’t see that there is any shortage of sports [in the community], but what I do see is that there is a shortage for the fine arts and enhancing our kids in that area,” Mr. Maharaj told Councillors.
According to a report by Shawna Cornish, Co-Chair of the Canada Day 150 Celebrations Committee, the Township is looking at holding events for Canada’s anniversary, from Friday, June 30th to Sunday, July 2nd. The concert at the fairgrounds would kickoff the celebrations.
Mr. Maharaj told Councillors they will be selling tickets for the event, and are hoping for about 4,500 attendees. Alcohol sales were also mentioned as a possible revenue generator. The sub committee is looking at funding the event partially through sponsorships.
Mr. Maharaj also said the sub committee has had conversations with Randy Bachman’s agent about being a headliner at the event. As well, he said the sub committee has been in touch with David Wilcox. The concert is also expected to feature local talent.
The sub committee’s initial plan was to hold a music festival at the fairgrounds, from the Friday before Canada Day until July 1st, however, they later decided they didn’t want it to conflict with events being held in Palmer Park that day, and shortened it to a one day event.
Mr. Maharaj said this concert could become an annual event.
“I see this being more than just for Canada Day. What my vision is, [is] to have some more music festivals, whether it be jazz, bluegrass, whatever it may be, not just focusing on Rock and Roll,” he said.
Ward 1 Councillor Betty Somerville asked what the $70,000 being requested from the Township would be used for, other than securing the headliner.
Mr. Maharaj said the money would also be used for the stage rental, and to get a security company.
Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett told Council that it would take half of the request, $35,000, to secure the act.
Ward 5 Councillor Jennifer Back called this concert an investment in the Township’s youth.
“This is a town that desperately needs an investment in our youth,” she said.
She later added that the reason to make it a yearly event is to give the youth something.
“This is an easy way and a fun way to not only recognize the youth currently in our town, that have talent and can have that exposure at this event, but it’s to invest in the little ones as well to make sure they get on a good path.”
The initial written delegation request to Council was $60,000, however, when Mr. Maharaj appeared before Council he asked for $70,000.
‘The costs that I was looking at initially, when I mentioned the $60,000, was strictly for the deposit for two of the headline acts. I had done that proposal a little prematurely before meeting with the sub committee the final time, and at that point we had talked about not just the deposit for the headline act but some of the other costs that are involved,” Mr. Maharaj said.
CAO Paul Allore said a concern from staff about the request is that the financial impact of the $70,000 has not been assessed through the budget process.
“Mearly drawing that from a reserve without understanding how that withdrawal from a reserve impacts the overall budget, we would not be in favour of that,” he said.
However, Councillor Back stressed the Township needs to act quickly on this.
“I believe if we take this through to January and the end of January, we will be looking at getting somebody that nobody wants to pay to buy a ticket to go and see.”
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew said she couldn’t support the request to hold the event this year.
“There is not a secure business plan. The report says $100,000, the delegation request said $60,000 and now it is $70,000. We’ve heard $50,000, $35,000. There’s too many unanswered questions. I fully support it, in another year,” she said, adding that the Township reaching it’s target tax increase in the 2017 budget is already going to be a “stretch.”
However, Councillor Kett said “Canada 151 doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
Councillor Drew moved the initial recommendation to Council, to have all funding requests for Canada Day 2017, referred to the operating budget process.
Councillor Back made an amendment to the recommendation, to have $70,000 allocated, from the Community Enhancement Fund Heritage reserve, for the event, to allow the sub committee to move forward with securing a headliner, to be paid back to the Township from revenues from the event and possibly through grant funds.
Councillor Drew did not receive it as a friendly amendment, so there was a recorded vote held on the amendment, which passed 5-2.
The rest of the Canada Day expenses will be discussed during operating budget deliberations.