Prince Albert city council has voted against offering free transit for the North Lights Casino Thanksgiving Powwow this weekend.
They turned down a belated request from the organizers, in part because it could have cost taxpayers up to an estimated $700 to transport passengers around the city to the Art Hauser Centre where the biennial cultural competition is taking place.
After much debate around the table they decided against the request, which councillor Ted Zurakowski said had not come during a previous meeting with the organizers when they had successfuly applied for some financial assistance from what’s known as the Destination Marketing Fund (DMF).
“Usually when an organization asks for free transit it’s an event that is non-profit, there’s no prize money involved and they would usually open their books and their budget for us to see,” Zurakowski told paNOW. “That wasn’t the case here.”
The hoteliers in the city pay into the DMF to help put on events but Zurakowski figured offering free transit “would have to be looked at very carefully because what goal would that accomplish?”
Councillor Blake Edwards figured the bus service was already subsidized heavily and the city was facing a tough budget year, and Mayor Greg Dionne voiced concerns about how the bus drivers would police who was getting on board to attend the powwow.
Councillor Evert Botha meanwhile thought that giving applicants a chance to request free transit through the DMF was something that should be considered in future and added the city couldn’t be sure what the true cost to taxpayers for the free transit for the Powwow would be.
“It’s important for people to be able to connect to cultural events like this,” he told paNOW. “Perhaps in two years from now we’ll have a clearer picture of how much it costs to run our transit service on a Saturday because I’m still uncertain what the exact dollar amount is.”
The Powwow runs from Friday 5 p.m. through Sunday 11 p.m
With files from Charlene Tebbutt
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