“We need to learn how to say no,” opined Coun. Henry Braun during a lengthy and divided debate on a funding request by the Ledgeview Golf Club.
No doubt there are a good number of Abbotsford taxpayers who would agree with the city’s newest councillor.
There have been a number of projects and expenditures in recent years that, in hindsight, many wish would have been met with “no” from city council. And there will be some who may draw a parallel of principle between a $115,000 city bail-out for a golf course operation, and millions in public subsidies for an entertainment centre, and the hockey team that calls it home.
However, as several councillors pointed out, one of the mandates of civic government is to provide public amenities.
The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre is now a major city asset. Seats need to be filled, and revenue must be generated.
The Ledgeview Golf Course is also a key city asset. And it too, has faced recent financial challenges.
Short of selling the rare property to private interests, it’s incumbent upon the city to help keep the facility open and available to the public.
We do agree that it’s prudent to set expectations and performance standards for organizations that come cap in hand to the city, along with exploring alternative funding solutions.
Business plans, revenue targets, costs controls, time limits – all should be part of these types of funding grants, with consequences should those conditions not be met.
Braun is a successful businessman. His acumen in that respect can only add to the discussion, and bring a new tone for civic spending.
The fact that council agreed to less than half the amount Ledgeview requested may suggest a change in attitude is already occurring.