Posted by auroracitizen on March 28, 2011
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rest of Council can be reached at email@example.com.
From: Elizabeth Bishenden
Sent: Sunday, March 27, 2011 7:37 PM
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.
Posted in Budget, Charitable Programs, Discussion Topic | 25 Comments »
Posted by auroracitizen on February 23, 2011
In her blog, Councillor Buck posted and then posted again that last Tuesday Council committed almost $5000 of our tax dollars to support/subsidize a Jazz Festival in town park. We are not sure why.
The community as a whole — who are funding this contribution — are not able to access this event. They would be required to pay an additional fee to attend.
Further, there are a variety of other revenue sources that have been identified that will contribute to the event coffers.
Some will say that any excess funds raised will be given to charities/community groups — which is a very positive thing.
However, let’s say that the event raises $10,000 after all expenses. That’s great.
But how much of these “expenses” went to pay performers, rental of equipment, etc? Potentially at market rates versus subsidized rates. We don’t know.
So who reaps the benefits of this event — the participants or the community. Are we even sure the organizers don’t take an honorarium or salary for running this event? It sounds like a for-profit venture that happens to donate left over funds to local charities so they can position themselves as a not-for-profit. Rather than a fund-raising event supported by volunteers so that funds can be raised for the community. That’s a different kettle of fish.
Equally important. If the town give $5000 and then the event donates $10,000 — effectively, the town has handed over $5000 to the group so they can donate it to the charity of their choice — versus the politicians making the judgment of where these funds should be spent.
In our opinion, the funds should not have been given — and if Council wants to donate some money to charity or community groups they should do so. That way we know exactly where our tax dollars are being spent.
Better the event only donate $5000 to local charities and then they can accept the full recognition for this generous donation — because they chose to use some of their profits to contribute to the community. This arrangement just muddies the water and we have seen where that has gotten us in past years.
In this case, we are either subsidizing an event or delegating authority to which charity our tax dollars are donated to. Neither which we support.
Posted in Charitable Programs, Community Corner, Recreation | 76 Comments »
Posted by auroracitizen on December 4, 2010
I just spend 2 1/2 hours with my daughter “personing” the Salvation Army Kettle at the Yonge Street LCBO. What a rewarding experience.
It was inspiring to see the diverse folks who dug deep to help. Young or old, it made no difference. My daughter commented that sometimes it is the people who “look” like they can afford the least who often contribute the most.
When we left, what started as an empty container was filled with Loonies, Toonies, $5, $10 and $20. Hundreds of dollars donated in just over 2 hours.
I was again reminded of what a friendly and giving community we live in. Whether people left pocket change, $20.00 or nothing — most people exchanged a smile or a greeting. Many commented that they had already given at another store earlier in the day. Others stopped to chat and say hello. Holiday well wishes were in abundance.
It was also an unexpected pleasure to say hello to folks I have not seen in quite some time. In our busy lives, we often find that folks we saw often through our children’s activities, we no longer see as our kids go in different directions.
So if you have some time available this holiday season, consider finding some way to volunteer. And if you have children — take them along. It gives them a renewed appreciation of how fortunate we are to live in a community like Aurora.
Plus, in addition to the positive feelings about the good work that we were supporting by standing by the kettle — which invariably increases the donations, I also got to spend over 2 hours with my daughter without interruption or distraction. That in itself is a special privilege we often miss as they get older and busier with friends, school work and extra activities.
So, if you can, look for a way to donate some time. The benefits are many and the need is great — even in Aurora.
If you are not sure where to help — call the Neighbourhood Network (905-726-3737), they can find something for you to do ;)
Posted in Charitable Programs, Discussion Topic | 6 Comments »
Posted by auroracitizen on November 19, 2010
Should the Town provide space for charities to offer their programs? Many municipal governments provide food banks with rent-free space to operate, for example. Aurora doesn’t, but should the town do so?
Is it appropriate for groups to use Town facilities for charitable fund-raising? Should those groups pay the usual fee, a reduced fee, or should the Town provide space and staff provide free support to help support charitable endeavours?
What role should the town play in supporting charities financially? Should we waive fees or should they pay user fees like other groups?
What about making donations to charities?
Is anyone familiar with the current Town policy? Is there a policy? Let us know.
Posted in Charitable Programs, Discussion Topic | 52 Comments »