City of Prince Rupert decides to fund Snowbirds

The Snowbirds Committee will receive funding from the City of Prince Rupert after all.

Despite originally being denied funding for a performance by the Royal Canadian Air Force’s acclaimed aerial flight demonstration team last month, council reversed its decision after a confidential request was discussed behind closed doors.

A noticeably brief announcement of the funding decision came in the final portion of the city council meeting on Feb. 12.

“The Snowbirds don’t perform in every community in British Columbia and no one knows when the next time they’ll be coming back to any of the northern communities. We see it as a way to get people into the community to take in the show,” said Jack Mussallem, Prince Rupert mayor, in a post-council interview.

When the Snowbird Committee approached the City about receiving a $15,000 to $20,000 Community Enhancement Grant in January, the City turned them down saying they were not in a place financially to support a one-day event.

However the cash won’t be coming out of the Community Enhancement Grant money pool as originally requested, but now from the remaining funds of the $20,000 the City provided for the Snowbirds in 2011 before the performance was cancelled because of poor weather. These funds were left over from the City’s Centennial celebrations and were set aside for future community events.

“They had used most of it, but there was around $9,000 left, and we’re giving them $7,000 of it,” Councillor Nelson Kinney said.

Mayor Mussallem said based on the regional implications and opportunities, the City decided to give some money for the show after receiving a second request behind-closed-doors.

“When we get a request, in some cases it will be in-camera because the requesters may not want [the request publicized],” he said, adding the City tries to accommodate confidential requests when possible.

When asked the same question, Kinney said anything budget-related gets discussed in-camera before being finalized.

Council also said it will be offering tax receipts to members of the community who donate money to ensure the event will take place in Prince Rupert.

“It’s essentially a free show for everyone in the municipality… We believe there may be people who are aircraft enthusiasts [that would be willing to donate],” Mussallem said.

“We’re hoping to get more support not only from the businesses and the industries around Prince Rupert, but from the actual residents… this is an opportunity for people to do that to support a community event.”

Kinney, one of the councillors who voted in favour of the original request, said he was very pleased to see some funding go through.

“It’s something our children deserve. A lot of our kids don’t get out of Rupert, and don’t get an opportunity to see things like that,” he said.

If all follows through, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be performing in Prince Rupert on Aug. 14.

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