County councillors here have changed their minds and decided to pay to have the Green Legacy showcased at the AMO conference in Ottawa in August.
Council had voted against having the Green Legacy booth at that conference, but councillor Joanne Ross-Zuj had offered a notice of motion in February to reconsider the issue, and she based her arguments on the planning committee offering a negative motions. All recommendations are supposed to be positive in form.
She argued it is important to showcase the program and Wellington County, and, “This booth certainly does that.”
Planning committee chairman Walter Trachsel argued that his committee had decided this year it would rather take the booth to local fairs, so local citizens can see the promotion first hand.
“If we do both, we’re over budget,” Trachsel said. His committee had dropped the AMO conference when the finance committee asked each committee to look for cuts at the January meeting.
Councillor Jean Innes said she likes the idea of local promotion, and noted the Green Legacy booth has already been to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference previously.
Innes said the cost for the booth is high because the county takes extra staff to the conference for the booth. She said with hotel, meals, and mileage, her own bill from that conference came close to $3,000, and sending extra people for the booth means more expense.
Councillor Lou Maieron argued the planning committee has the smallest budget, and there was no money for local presentations. He said the committee tried to find some money to at least have a presence at local fairs, rather than “telling the world what we’re doing.”
He said this could be “a great opportunity to get people involved.”
Warden John Green said, “Those costs can be managed dealing locally and with municipalities.”
Councillor Chris White agreed with Green, and said it is important for the county to have a presence outside of Wellington.
He pointed out the county received over $2.3-million the day before the council meeting, and other grants as well, and said, “Those things happen because we have a presence at these events.”
He noted Guelph-Eramosa had received a grant of $541,000 for infrastructure, and said, “If we’re not down there, the money doesn’t show up.”
Councillor Rod Finnie agreed a presence at conventions can do important things for the county, but the question being discussed is, “Do we want the Green legacy at AMO?”
Finnie said when the program was in its infancy, it was a good idea to promote it at places like AMO, but, “We’ve done that. Now is the time to stay local.”
Councillor Bob Wilson said the Green Legacy is “one of the most widely accepted programs Wellington County has ever been behind.”
He said thousands of kids can explain all about it, because they have planted trees all over Wellington County. “You can’t do any better than publicizing it in schools,” Wilson said.
But, Wilson concluded, “Going to AMO is just to show off – and I’m not sure we should show off.”
Councillor Brad Whitcombe said the Federation of Canadian Municipalities lobbied the federal finance minister for infrastructure cash, but Jim Flaherty said, “I’m not in the pothole business.”
But, Whitcombe said, he did listen when the FCM delegates when they lobbied for a permanent share of the federal gas tax. “When funding is available, it flows back to us – so it’s worthwhile,” Whitcombe said of a presence at conventions.
Council then voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Green Legacy being at the AMO conference.