Merits of funding cultural celebration debated

Should the city spend taxpayers’ money on events celebrating other cultures in Cranbrook?

Should the city spend taxpayers’ money on events celebrating other cultures in Cranbrook?

That question came up in council Monday as the Filipino-Canadian Association of East Kootenay asked for $415 to host a public event to celebrate Philippine Independence Day on June 8.

The money would cover the cost of the sound system, the table rentals and the rental of Spirit Square.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said the event warrants the city’s contribution.

“They are putting on a public event in a public park and they are inviting the citizens of Cranbrook to come and join them for four hours,” Stetski said. “Quite frankly, if some groups of different cultures in Cranbrook want to come forward and invite the community to participate in an event like that, I’d be happy to support them as well.”

Stetski said council should be encouraging the celebration of cultures in Canada.

In a past council meeting, some councillors were worried that if they give money to one group, they may end up having to give to every group.

Coun. Bob Whetham said he had concerns with council looking as if it is giving priority to one group.

Whetham said when he was in Fort McMurray the council designated one day for all cultures to celebrate their heritage, which was also on Canada Day.

“I do have a lot of discomfort about individual groups coming forward for special consideration,” he said.

The mayor said the reality is there are not a lot of cultural groups asking for this type of consideration. In fact, this was the only one.

Coun. Diana Scott agreed with Whetham on the cultural day idea.

Scott also alluded to an earlier discussion on whether council should absorb the Western Financial Place rental fees for the high school prom celebration.

“Everyone is worthy, but it’s hard to grant everyone,” Scott said. “It is a slippery slope.”

Scott suggested they reimburse the rental of Spirit Square instead, which amounts to a $65 contribution.

Coun. Angus Davis said this could be a prelude to having a culture day and supported the motion.

Coun. Gerry Warner thought it was ironic that the city was considering putting money toward this celebration, when the plans for Canada Day celebrations were still up in the air. He also suggested calling the June 8 celebration “multicultural day.”

Stetski clarified that Canada Day events will be happening, it just isn’t certain how big they will be.

The original motion was defeated, but council agreed on providing the rental of Spirit Square.