It will be very interesting to see how Prince Rupert city council handles the request of the grad parents to waive the rental fee for the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
Here you have a municipal government that is looking at ways of growing revenue being asked to forgo extra money in city coffers at a time when the likelihood of a tax increase is quite high.
While people can certainly argue that waiving the rental fees for prom, a one-night party for students that is budgeted to cost $30,000, is in the best interest of Prince Rupert youth, doing so would set a dangerous precedent. If you’re going to waive the rental fee for one group, you better have a good defense for yourself if you don’t waive the rental fees for other non-profit groups in the community looking to celebrate in the city.
Perfect example: Homecoming 2015. That group has already asked for the fees for their gala event, a celebration for people returning to their former home to reconnect with past and current residents, to be waived. Council asked staff to report back to them on that one, but it would be difficult to argue that organizers of a celebration for grads that happens every year should have their rent waived while organizers of a celebration for past and present residents should have to pay.
In the end it all comes down to fairness — a policy that is put in place for one group should be applied equally among all similar groups. Showing preferential treatment by providing the civic centre free of charge for one group but not another is not a path council should be going down.
And in this case, frankly, those in the chambers would be hard-pressed to explain to the majority of taxpayers in town why they should be paying more in tax to a council that is decrying the lack of revenue sources available while turning down additional money to benefit a few.
The two just don’t go together. Hopefully council can see the folly of that thinking.