Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Time For A Clear, Consistent Policy for Sponsorship

Posted by auroracitizen on March 28, 2011

Hi everyone,

See below for a letter that I have sent to Mayor Dawe and Councillors.   Anyone wishing to contact the Mayor or the Council members about this matter is encouraged to do so.  (Feel free to copy some of the text, but be sure to express your own views as well!)

Geoff Dawe can be reached at gdawe@e-aurora.ca.

The rest of Council can be reached at allcouncillors@e-aurora.ca.

Thanks,

Elizabeth Bishenden

From: Elizabeth Bishenden
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2011 7:37 PM
To:gdawe@e-aurora.ca
Cc:allcouncillors@e-aurora.ca
Subject: Council policy with respect to charities and not-for-profits

Dear Mayor Dawe and Aurora Town Councillors,

Since taking office as the elected Mayor and Council of Aurora, you have been approached by not-for-profit agencies and charities asking for sponsorship or the use Town of Aurora facilities.  You have at times agreed to sponsor these groups.

Other groups who have user agreements for town-owned facilities often use these facilities for fundraisers for third-party charities.  There does not appear to be a way of ensuring that these groups follow any particular guidelines.

I think it is important for our Town Council to have a good working relationship with not-for-profits and charities.  These organizations contribute to the betterment of life in our community in substantial and tangible ways.  They give us a focus for making the Aurora a strong community for everyone.

However, your Council is not treating all the charities and not-for-profits that exist in Aurora on an equal footing.  Because you don’t have a policy for your evaluation and acceptance of these applications from charities and not-for profit groups, and because groups with whom you have an agreement for one kind of use of town-owned facilities are also using those facilities for fundraising, you are dispensing support arbitrarily.

The only way you, as Council, can begin to choose which not-for-profit and charity groups to support in a fair manner is to set a policy that you then abide by.  This policy, developed with input from all the stakeholders involved, would be the framework on which you could base your decisions.

I encourage you to work in concert with these groups in Aurora as well as with other stakeholders (Leisure Services Department, the Aurora Seniors’ Association, Sport Aurora and its contingent membership, York Region District School Board and its School Councils to name just a few) to develop a framework that treats all organizations the same:  they all have the opportunity to use the facilities of the Town of Aurora for the good of the entire community.

We are really fortunate to have a great community that values many contributors:  those elected and those who see a need and rise to the challenge.  It’s time for your group to take the lead and forge strong partnerships with clear goals and expectations.

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25 Responses to “Time For A Clear, Consistent Policy for Sponsorship”

  1. Anonymous said

    I agree 100% with Christopher Watts, April 2, 8:43
    Taxes are for necessary services. Charitable donations should be an individual’s choice and directed to the cause or organization that they support. Yes, at the rate we pay taxes in Aurora to support fancy reorganizations, consultants, lawyers,private music enterprises, so-called cultural centres and God knows what else there will be nothing left to give to our own choices. I seriously think that it is time to pull the purse strings tight and get this whole situation under control.
    The whole world has been struggling since 2008 and countries are putting austerity measures in place. Aurora is no different. To manage fiscally and get its house in order, there have to be austerity measures here too. The town has overspent and depleted its reserves. Focus on the essentials and cut the frills. We will all survive without them and have a little more money in our pockets to spend in the way we choose to and not to support council’s whims.
    It’s about time council had the guts to make some hard decisions and say “no” to friends and favorites. Quit worrying about whether people like you or if it means a vote at the next election. Responsibility and prudent management is your first priority.

  2. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    The discussion here isn’t just about sponsorships. It’s about the Town’s relationship with charities. I completely agree that the Town should not be giving charities money and sponsorships in the arbitrary way it did in the past.

    However, I don’t agree that tax money paid to the Town can’t be given to charities. It already is. The Aurora Public Library is a registered charity, and I believe we get great value for the use the library makes of the money it gets from the Town coffers.

    Charities are part of the community, and as such, need to be treated fairly by the Town Council. Treating them equally isn’t treating them fairly, so for anyone to pretend that a straight “no” to a request for tax money for charities would be a good policy is kidding themselves. Council needs to look seriously at all the groups it works with and figure out where the money is going to go to give the greatest benefit to the citizenry.

  3. Evelyn Buck said

    In addition to the observations by Chris Watts on the town’s need for a policy on charitable contributions,it needs to be recognized,the food bank’s resources are derived from the donations from Aurora residents and organizations.
    The food bank is an excellent case in point to illustrate the reason why the town should not be collecting taxes to contribute to charity on behalf of the community.

    The community already contributes presumable to the best of their ability.

    The food bank itself notices a drop in supplies in accordance with economic hardship.

    If the town did contribute the amount would be arbitrarily decided and it would signal to the community the town had taken over yet another of their responsibility. Why should they continue to contribute on a voluntary basis.

    The food bank would not be better off.

    The lines of responsibility would be further obscured.

    Responsibility for social welfare rests with the senior levels of government. It is their responsibility to ensure families in need have sufficient to meet basic needs.

    In the nineties, the Harris government slashed allowances and gave the program a new name. They called it workfare.Since the majority of recipients are children, it would seem to have been a step backwards in time to the days of child labour.

    The current government has not restored benefits to pre-Harris principles while cost of rent and everything else has gone up by forty per cent.

    Therein lies the circumstance which has brought back the days of depression and soup kitchens for people in need in the community.

    Imagine what it does to a ten year old’s psyche to know his mother has to beg for the food on the table.That there is no equality of opportunity for him.How is a kid supposed to deal with that when he sees others in his class indulged in the best that money can buy?

    Where is the social justice?

  4. Guy L. Poppe said

    To Lucky Wife:

    A truly articulate and persuasive response.

    I hope that you are, or will become involved in the governance of our Town.

    You have something great to offer.

  5. David Heard said

    I heard you loud and clear.

  6. Guy L. Poppe said

    To Anymouse:

    In fairness, Ms. Buck was only expressing her own views. I support her right to do so on this blog or anywhere else.

    She, of course, has the right to try to persuade other councilors at the council table, or for that matter, she may be dissuaded from her views at that time.

    In fact, politicians advocate their position before debate all the time.

    Anymouse, I suspect, if pressed, you would rather prefer some idea where a councilor stands beforehand, so that you can examine the merits of his or her position, than be faced with unexpected advocacy at the table.

    Sorry, got to get back to my CPAC channel to listen where the various parties stand.

  7. Guy L. Poppe said

    I agree with Councilor Buck’s comments.

    I don’t think the Town should be in the charity, non-profit, or commercial business, including The Chamber of Commerce, by granting indulgences or whatever.

  8. Evelyn Buck said

    Mayor Dawe,
    With respect,
    We already have a policy on use of town facilities.

    The policy is based on the principle and the reality that all taxpayers do not use the facilities.
    Cost of operating the facilities should not be on their shoulders.

    User fees are calculated by staff and approved by council. So that all users are aware they are being treated equally.

    A waiver of fees is not in accordance with the policy.

    It is not fair. It is not equitable.It is not transparent.

    It betrays the trust of those who pay the fees without question, believing them to be fair.

    Waived fees increase the burden on those who pay.

    We have a grants policy to assist groups or individuals who need seed funding to start or support something determined to be of value something of value that meets criteria set by policy.

    Why do we need another policy to be giving away money which is not ours to begin with.

    Most small groups raising funds for worthy causes ,pay the overheads without question and are still able to be successful.

    Levying taxes to make charitable donations, sponsorships of commercial operations or whatever else a hand-out may be disguised is not appropriate.

    Which or whether an individual may choose to support charity is one of the few decisions left for us to make freely, without government interference.

    I say, it should stay that way.

    • Anonymouse said

      How is two members of council debating this on a blog a good representation of democracy?

      Mr Dawe’s post can be considered as information but Ms Buck is clearly using this forum as a venue for debate that should be held in council chambers. She is getting out of hand again.

      Anony..mouse.

      O O
      O

    • Evelyn Buck said

      I left out an important phrase. The grant policy is available for seed money to start-up of a program which may be of value to the community.

      Or a resident who has an opportunity to compete and bring credit to the town but might not have sufficient personal resources.

      We provide a scholarship to students who excel in governance courses in our various high schools.It’s a tradition of many years standing.

      Who made the rule that debate on public issues should be confined to the Council Chamber within the formality of a Council meeting?

      I have never heard of it.

      Don’t think much of it.

    • Anonymouse said

      “Who made the rule that debate on public issues should be confined to the Council Chamber within the formality of a Council meeting?”

      Well…. You continually quote “Robert’s Rules of Order”. Are you and Mr Dawe posting here as citizens or as elected officials? The problem with debating here is that you are not operating under the same rules that you continually say everyone else is violating.

      O O
      O

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      I truly believe that charities and not-for-profits contribute in an above and beyond way and so deserve special consideration in our community. I am asking for the Town Council to review their policies and ensure that they have a fair way of evaluating that special contribution.

      Different Councillors will see this discussion in different ways. We’ve elected them. We can influence them.

      But in the end, it is up to the Mayor and the Council.

    • Luckywife said

      Thank you Elizabeth and Evelyn, you both make excellent points.

      Elizabeth, I agree that Council needs to have a clear, concise and transparent policy regarding grants and fee waivers and it must always be applied consistently. That is the very least that they can do when they are being so generous as to give away money that was collected for the purpose of providing and maintaining essential services and infrastructure for the community.

      However, I do strongly agree with Evelyn that Council has no business waiving any fees or offering grants to charitable or cultural organizations, no matter how worthy the cause or how great the need. That is not the intended purpose of Municipal tax assessment and is an inappropriate use of those funds. Our Provincial government has been negligent in not properly legislating to end this practice by municipalities.

      The taxes that we pay at the Provincial and Federal level are relative to our personal income. Those that make more, pay more. That is not the case with Municipal taxes which are based on the MPAC assessment. Suppose I have the same assessment as my neighbour, resulting in both of us having a $5000 property tax bill. Sounds fair enough, but here’s the rub; what if my income is $100,000 and my neighbours is only $35,000? How fair or proper is it to collect that $5000 from my neighbour and then use it to support non-essential community or cultural interests and then keep coming back year after year to demand even more. Should my neighbour sell the home they have lived in for over 40 years to a couple whose $5000 tax levy will not represent 15% of their income?

      Council has apparently worked quite diligently to reduce the property tax increase from over 7% to just fewer than 5. Frankly, it defies logic that they can make that claim or uphold it if they are deferring infrastructure and capital expenditures, reducing contributions to capital reserves, repairing old and outdated equipment rather than replacing it etc… All will be necessary and essential to the community at some point in time. Meanwhile, they see no problem with waiving fees and writing cheques to SIG and “cultural” interests. Where is the sense in that?

      I am willing to pay user fees for the services that I use. I already contribute to charitable organizations. I resent my Municipality making the decision for me which charities and events are worthy of my tax dollars and how much culture I need and forcing me to pay for it whether I want it or not. Meanwhile, my car could do with a new set of shocks and struts thanks to the poor condition of the roads that are not being maintained or repaired with the funds intended to do just that.

    • veritas said

      Well said, Luckywife. I agree with all the points you have presented. After last night, when it was decided that we are on the hook for Morris’s legal fees, I feel stronger than ever that our hard-earned tax dollars should be spent on essential services; that anything beyond that should only be spent once the essentials, such as roads, have been taken care of; that requests for handouts should have to adhere to a strict policy which is applied consistently; and that there is NO case for waiving user fees.
      Our pockets are not bottomless and I am tired of decisions being made by those who seem to think they are.

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      I’m interested in the way charity is viewed by the Council in terms of capitol costs as well.

      It is interesting that the Town of Aurora has at times been able to build numerous sports and leisure facilities that are very popular, but the Town has never been able to provide something that might be even more worthwhile: a home for a Food Bank.

      It seems to me that while squash courts and woodworking rooms are lovely additions to our Town, a centrally located Food Bank with good public transit access is a essential service. Many other municipalities provide space for the local Food Bank. Why doesn’t Aurora? Yes, it would cost a lot of money. So maybe to fund it we would have to start looking at our priorities.

      As many posters have noted, there is only so much money in the tax base. Should the Town be setting up facilities for clubs where the relatively wealthy can pay user fees for enhanced services or are we about having a community that supports some of the less well-heeled?

    • Anonymouse said

      To: Elizabeth Bishenden

      “It is interesting that the Town of Aurora has at times been able to build numerous sports and leisure facilities that are very popular, but the Town has never been able to provide something that might be even more worthwhile: a home for a Food Bank.”

      We’ve discussed it here before…. the TOWN is not in the business of providing a facility for a food bank. Welfare services are the baliwick of higher forms of government.

      O O

      O

    • Christopher Watts said

      First off Luckwife is correct, down to the letter.

      And for Elizabeth’s information Aurora has a centrally located Food Bank with good public transit. It’s located on Industrial Parkway in the building that used to be our own Cable and ISP provider.

      I don’t know what you are claiming the town should have done after such a generous offering was made.

      Perhaps John Sargent who often contributes here and is a large force at the Food Bank can shed some light onto how the new location is working out.

      From what I understand it is a much needed improvement from the location that was being used on Yonge Street.

      Perhaps as a way to get people to come out and see it is to host our indoor Farmers Market at that location. I don’t understand how anyone could be squeamish about such an idea.
      We are a community aren’t we?

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      The 034-Industrial Parkway bus only runs M-F and not in the evenings. The Aurora Food Pantry is open on Thursday from 6 pm to 8 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.

      The Aurora Food Pantry isn’t part of the Province of Ontario’s welfare programme.

      The Aurora Food Pantry is a charity. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, mainly Lorna Rumenie and her family. In recent years the Board has welcomed a number of new volunteers. They are a wonderful group and do everything they can to support food security in our town. The best person a hungry citizen could ever meet is Lorna. She’s calm, non-judgemental, and perfectly clear about the rules for the use of the Aurora Food Pantry. If you Google “The Auroran” and then search on “Aurora Food Pantry” you can read an informative letter that Lorna wrote to the Auroran about the history and use of the Aurora Food Pantry. You can similarly read an article in The Auroran about the move the Aurora Food Pantry made to their new location on Industrial Parkway.

      Kudos to the Irvine Family for making a space available to the Aurora Food Pantry. I have no doubt that this is a great move.

      Since Chris asked, I guess that would I would expect that when the Irvine Family generously donated the use of their very valuable piece of real estate, what the Town should have done is say quietly to itself, “Why do we have the resources to share rare seeds with Kew Gardens but we don’t seem have the resources to have a relationship with the food bank in our own town. We don’t have to commit to supporting the food bank, but we could possibly make our ideas known or at least listen to those who have been working in the Aurora Food Pantry for years and years, like Lorna. Maybe we should consider the idea that the people who live in Town would know that they don’t have to depend on the fantastic generosity of one family to ensure housing for our best representative of food security? Maybe we should get in touch with the Irvines and Lorna and the rest of the Aurora Food Pantry Directors and start seeing what our community can do to look after itself.”

      The Irvines have given the AFP a great gift. But I don’t understand why that family’s generosity should replace the idea that our Town needs to have a good, hard, look at where our money is spent and why. I am sure the Irvines have the best of intentions, but what would happen if they had to sell the property? Let’s look at their wonderful donation as a chance for the Town to buy some time and get its priorities in place.

      We actually live in a place where the tax base has already agreed that many of the municipally owned recreational facilites can be run for the almost exlusive use of clubs who pay user fees. Could we live have a town that says, “We provide a place so the folks that feed kids who live in poverty can provide them with a decent meal”?

      By the way, one food security project the Town does support is the Community Gardens project of the York Region Food Network. It’s a great way for people who don’t have access to a place to grow food to have a garden. Check it out at http://www.yrfn.ca. And, yes, John H Sargent is one reason this initiative has continued to grow in Aurora. He brings passion and purpose and just plain hard work, as well as his trademark pony tail and a pretty old pick up truck, both of the latter qualities noted by John on another discussion here at the AC :-).

    • Christopher Watts said

      Elizabeth,

      Thank you for pointing out the bus issue with the food pantry. I can appreciate that this adds a level of inconvenience.
      However being familiar with the ACI building there is significant parking at the location and it is still withing walking distance being centrally located.

      Coupled with the fact that it has increased space and was a generous gift I fail to see how this wasn’t a step up from the old location or how the town could have provided something better. Perhaps if you had an idea for a solution you may have provided it to council for their consideration last year.

      I agree that Lorna John and the entire crew @ the food pantry does a fantastic job. I would also encourage others to get in touch with them if you want to know more.

      I don’t understand your statement that there is no need to “replace” anything. But I agree that the town does need to look at where our money is being spent, and they are doing that in their budget process. Have you raised your concerns at council or one of their meetings?

      If you are speaking to some kind of funding inequality by comparing $ spent on the Arboretum to the Aurora Food Pantry I think this is the wrong way to go about it.

      The discussion here is to have an even playing field with sponsorships. Should the Arboretum get our money? Not from what I’ve seen. Should the Food Pantry? although I personally would like to see the town spend money it opens up the doors for several charities and that is not what the town’s $ is to be spent on.

      We actually live in a place where the tax rate is too high. We don’t need to replace one group with another we need to reduce our taxes and conserve whatever $ we collect for the core services we all use and expect.

      People can decide which charities they will donate to by themselves. They will be unable to do so if their taxes are at a rate that prevents them from donating anything at all, or even forcing them to use the food bank.

  9. JOHN H SARGENT said

    Re POLICY NON-PROFIT and CHARITY’S using town PROPERTY…This will be a hard issue to fulfill unless every group is treated exactly the same period.yet it could still remain unfair..TO me there is a big difference between a not for profit group than a charity..Most directors or volunteers of smaller Charity’s receive* NO * salary and have to work from home etc, while most Nun-Profit profit groups create their own employment and receive salary’s,benefits etc.They have the ability to set their own rate of pay and if we were able to see their books you would fine most not for profits groups directors etc get paid *Very* well and have their own office space they pay for.. This does seem to be the way to go these days Nun-Profit..pay yourself enough money and there will be no profit, So back to the post..would it be fair to charge a 1st party Charity the same as a Not for Profit group,who is only going to give whats left over after wages and expenses to a third party charity of their choice for the use of town owned facility.. While back in a post i have raised the issue of Not for-PROFIT groups popping up every where and for every thing possible –seems to be the new means of survival of the fittest..used to be Employment agencies lobbying company’s to take part of your wages for them to be employed .now it called Not for Profit and create your own job and or recognition with town or government grants,etc ,sounds good to me..The only ones that will lose in a blanket policy are the small charity’s as a lot of Not for Profit groups have the personal and means to lobby for a exception to any rules for their own greater good, So good luck to Mayor DAWE and Conciliators on this one

  10. Geoffrey Dawe said

    Just a quick comment on Ms. Bishenden’s post. Councillor Thompson provided notice of motion at the last Council meeting with respect to developing a sponsorship policy, so this will be addressed.

    Also, the Town has changed its email addesses, as we have now been able to obtain the “Aurora.CA” domain name. My email address is gdawe@aurora.ca.

    Regards

    • Elizabeth Bishenden said

      Michael Thompson is a great person to have on Council. He’s the kind who sees a bump in the road and finds a way to smooth it.

      Looking forward to the good results. Well done, Michael.

      EB

    • Who is responsible? said

      Our society is built around policies.

      A policy for health care, another for eduction, a third for social services; one for communications, another for defence, yet another for transportation.

      But none of these policies is working properly, nor is our society.

      As taxpayers we finance our society and its policies, but we take no personal responsibility for them. We leave this up to politicians and bureaucrats.

      While it is virtually impossible to interact with national or regional policies, we should be able to do so more effectively within our small town.

      Judging by some of the present comments, we are not really even capable of that.

      We need to get more involved with our community, whether it be monthly trash collection, time committed to gathering contributions to the food bank and helping those in greater need than the average, planting trees wherever a tree can live, many little things that don’t cost much.

      If there are worthy causes, let them take some of the responsibility to announce themselves,who they are, what they are and what they aim to accomplish. Possibly an advertising campaign in the local press, at nominal cost borne by the community.

      It becomes tiresome to hear or read about another handout, another waiver of fees from the town to virtually anyone who asks.

      Let’s support the arts, but as individuals, not from the public purse.

      Let’s support kids’ athletics, be it soccer or swimming, but levy a realistic cost against these activities to at least cover the operating costs of the facilities, the capital cost of which has been into the millions of dollars.

      And an indoor Farmers Market at the cultural centre is a joke. You can barely breathe in the place much less look at what is offered for sale. Who planned this? Get another venue, one that works to everyone’s benefit.

      We really need to shake up our community, create some indignation, get some ideas flowing, use the resulting energy to do positive things. Take responsibility. It might actually feel good.

    • Christopher Watts said

      I agree with Elizabeth.

      Clr. Thompson is everything I want in a Clr.

      He listens, he researches, he is prepared, he is succinct.

      So Michael, do you see those bumps and chicanes that are referred to as “traffic calming”?

      The majority of people I’ve spoken to can’t wait to see that smoothed over.

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