Oliver Town council has turned down a request for a donation to support a new piece of playground equipment for Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary School’s primary playground. Instead, council plans to pass the request on to the Town’s Parks and Recreation department, which Mayor Ron Hovanes suggested would be a more appropriate benefactor.
Council was presented with a written request for funding from Tuc-el-Nuit’s principal, David Foster, during its June 24 meeting. They voted unanimously to defer the request.
According to the letter, the estimated cost for the new apparatus, resilient surfacing, border and concrete is $17,450. But Foster said the school received a $5,000 School Community Connection grant earlier this summer, leaving the school with a $12,450 shortfall. He noted that the school district maintenance staff and grounds crew would install the equipment at no cost to the school.
“Tuc-el-Nuit has served as a centre for community activity for over 36 years,” Foster stated in his letter.
He noted the school is the hub for many user groups such as the pre-school, daycare, toddler/infant care, after school programs, aboriginal student programs, Oliver Cubs & Scouts, soccer, basketball and support programs offered by Oliver Parks & Recreation.
“Many neighbouring families frequent the playing fields and playgrounds during afternoons, evenings and weekends.”
Foster said they are asking for a financial contribution from the Town to support their efforts in bringing the playground upgrade to the community.
For Councilor Jack Bennest the decision to turn Foster down was an easy one.
“This is not normally a fundable thing for the Town of Oliver,” he said, adding that council does have funding allocated for community grants but that funding is primarily for start-up ventures, rather than ongoing or maintenance projects.
“We have to be careful not to set a precedent,” he warned.
Councilor Rick Machial was also wary of the request. He echoed Bennest, suggesting that Council proceed with caution.
“It would be a dangerous thing to do,” he noted.
Councilor Dave Mattes agreed with his colleagues but suggested that had the request followed protocol, (a delegation and/or an application) a stronger case could have been made for the school.
Mayor Hovanes added that he was aware a similar request from Osoyoos Elementary School had been put forth to the Town of Osoyoos. In that case the Town was able to donate $10,000.
In regard to any comparison that may be made between the two municipalities, Hovanes noted that Osoyoos has a larger tax base.
“It isn’t really a level playing field if you were to compare,” he noted. “We have community grants available and this doesn’t fit the bill at this time. If we give to Tuc-el-Nuit this time, there will be others and we can’t say yes to everyone. It becomes a slippery slope. When it comes to taxpayers’ money we have to stick to our protocol.”