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Kings County councillor says people ‘thrown under bus’ by decision to change volunteer celebration venue

Kings County council approved operating and capital budgets and set the tax rates for the 2018-2019 fiscal year at a recent special meeting.
After applying procurement policy criteria, Kings County council selected the Port Williams Lions Hall as the venue for this year's volunteer celebration. - SaltWire File Photo

Best says verbal commitment already made to Berwick Lions

KENTVILLE, N.S. —

A Kings County councillor is not pleased that the venue for this year’s municipal volunteer celebration has changed after applying procurement policy criteria.

A motion from the February committee of the whole session was to approve the Berwick Lions Club as the venue for the 2019 Kings County Volunteer Celebration. The chief administrative officer (CAO) would be directed to have staff develop a policy for future celebrations with the understanding that the venue changes yearly.

At the March 5 council session, a supplementary report prepared by co-ordinator of recreation services Nichole Gilbert was presented by deputy CAO Robert Frost. It contained new information and a new recommendation: to approve the Port Williams Lions Club as the venue and to have the CAO develop a policy for future years.

A verbal booking for the Berwick Lions Club had been made for the April 10 event, although it was verified that there is no penalty to cancel the booking. It was determined that the verbal booking was made in error, without applying the municipal procurement policy. Using the policy, four bids were received to host the event.

The Berwick Lions Club could accommodate 200 to 250 people with an overall cost of between $4,000 and $5,000 while the Port Williams Lion Club could accommodate 200 to 220 people at an overall cost of between $3,150 and $3,670.

The Old Orchard Inn could accommodate 200 to 220 people at an overall cost of $10,106.66 and Acadia University could accommodate between 200 and 220 people with an overall cost between $5,955.77 and $6,213.

Frost said they need a venue to seat 200 to 250 people for a meal and a smaller venue would limit the number of invitees. There is interest on council to use a not-for-profit organization if possible.

At the conclusion of the report, Coun. Bob Best said they have 240 people to invite, so by going with Port Williams they would have to cut back on the number of volunteers included. He said maybe it isn’t important to other councillors but he would like to see more volunteers being celebrated, not fewer.

“Well, here we go again,” Best said. “We’re talking about putting people under the bus.”

He said the municipality would cut 20 or 40 volunteers from the invitation list “because some of the councillors complain, complain, complain.”

Best said Mayor Peter Muttart had earlier committed to donate to the service club if it turned out that the Berwick Lions weren’t selected as the host. Best said he hoped Muttart’s donation would be about $1,500 because that’s what the Berwick Lions would lose in profit.

Coun. Pauline Raven called a point of order, stating that she doesn’t think the characterization of other councillors being made by Best was “respectful of the space that we’re in together.” She said it sounded like the kind of tone people would use if they were trying to intimidate others in the room.

“I won’t use the term bullying but I don’t think that would be an exaggeration,” Raven said.

Muttart said that while it wasn’t technically a point of order being raised by Raven, he cautioned Best not to stray from the Code of Conduct.

Best said the municipality already made a commitment to the Berwick Lions. Muttart reiterated that this had been done in error and the Berwick Lions Club understands that.

Council voted in favour of selecting the Port Williams Lion Club as the venue for the volunteer celebration and to have the CAO and staff develop a policy for future years. Best was the only councillor to vote against the motion.

Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

Did you know?

  • In 2014, it was requested by council to have the CAO work in conjunction with the Kings Volunteer Resource Centre to bring a volunteer celebration initiative forward during the budget process.
  • The Kings County Volunteer Celebration is held in April during National Volunteer Week.
  • The event has grown from 125 volunteers being celebrated in 2015 to 240 in 2018.
  • There were eight nominations for the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015 and there are 23 nominations for 2019.
  • The annual budget for the Kings County Volunteer Celebration is $7,000.

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