City committee endorses additional $170K for Canada 150 celebrations in London

Additional funding in the amount of $170,270 for Canada 150 celebrations in London got the nod from a city committee Tuesday.

Mayor Matt Brown and Coun. Josh Morgan put forward a motion requesting $183,270 to be taken from the Community Investment Reserve Fund to cover a shortfall after the federal government only approved $60,000 of a $243,270 dollar grant application.

READ MORE: London seeks $183K from city reserves for Canada 150 celebrations

During Tuesday’s corporate services committee meeting, Brown expressed his disappointment in the federal government.

“A hard ‘no’ that we received from the federal government and a disappointing ‘no’ as well,” said Brown.

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“We are certainly the hub of southwestern Ontario, we represent 2.5-million people inclusively, and to receive $60,000 in funding from this source was a surprise.”

Following debate Tuesday, the corporate services committee ultimately endorsed spending $170,270 from the reserve fund on celebration events, but voted against funding a $13,000 shortfall for Tourism London.

“I think it’s absolutely a very, very bad idea to separate these things out and vote on them separately. The reason why there were all together and why they are all listed, was because these were all included in the original granting process,” said Morgan.

The vote was split into three options for councillors; choosing to fund $145,270 for nine requests around the city, funding $25,000 for the Hyde Park Business Improvement Area, which includes multiple community groups in north London, and funding $13,000 for Tourism London.

READ MORE: Canada 150: Canada’s greatest moments in hockey history

Coun. Jesse Helmer said the city has already contributed more than originally planned on Canada 150 events, so the only funding he would support is a $10,000 request for the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

“At a certain point we need to realize that we don’t have the funds available for the event that we were planning to do and we need to scale it down and do something different,” said Helmer.

“There’s different ways of responding to not getting the grant money from the federal government.”

Helmer said Londoners are ingenious and could pull these events together at the last minute if the money doesn’t come through.

“This is essentially the city backstopping a failed federal grant request and I just don’t support that in general and I don’t support it for this particular kind of funding.”

The city has already spent $225,000 over three years on Canada 150 initiatives, including $75,000 for SesquiFest. The Community Investment Reserve Fund currently has around $500,000.

Final approval for the additional Canada 150 funding will go before full council next week.