A $250 donation of a tree to commemorate January’s fire at the Kerr Apartments has councillor Margaret Stacey asking for city council to come up with a policy for donating money after disasters.
The call also follows a council decision to donate $10,000 to Onagawa, Japan after a tsunami hit the country.
Though she voted in favour of both the Japan donation and the tree, Stacey says she doesn’t see any reason the council gave cash to the home of Hampton Gray’s monument when it hasn’t given funds to other countries dealing with disasters.
“We just finished a big budget, and when Onagawa came up somehow we found $10,000 for that after arguing about $10,000 and $15,000,” she told council last Monday.
“I would like a rationale for doing what we do, and if we don’t support Haiti but we do support Onagawa, why?”
Stacey says she’s not sure what kind of policy the city should have, but thinks it should cover “big and little items that come to us in an emergency,” including donations and gifts after the fact.
That would include the Kerr tree, proposed by the unmet needs committee struck to help upwards of 80 residents displaced by the fire.
Located in Lakeside Park, the tree would act as a thank you for the community’s “extraordinary” financial support and donations following the blaze.
“We don’t support the Kerr, but all of a sudden we support Onagawa and then we put a plaque on a tree for the Kerr building,” says Stacey. “It makes no sense.”
Stacey says the city could consider creating a disaster fund to draw money out of, or set up a foundation — “like Friends of the Family, only Friends of the World.”
Alternatively, it could stay out of the donation business altogether, and instead provide “leadership” during disasters, pointing people in the direction of specific charities and groups.
“Maybe some people don’t like funding these things in their taxes, “she says. “Maybe they’d like to fund them separately themselves or put money into it themselves. And there are other organizations out there doing good work.”
City staff say policy could be drafted by end of the summer.