'IT'S SOMETHING WE CAN'T LOSE'
VERNON - Council has answered a plea from the historic O’Keefe Ranch for continued funding, but only for a year and with several conditions.
The ranch had appealed to the city to restore a subsidy the previous council decided to cut in 2013. The $150,000 grant was to be phased out over three years, dropping to $100,000 in 2017, $50,000 in 2018 and $10,000 in 2019. However, the ranch says that is simply not sustainable.
Coun. Catherine Lord, also a former ranch manager, spoke Monday of the historical significance of the ranch, and pointed out it has a large economic impact.
“O’Keefe is a true museum and not just a tourist attraction,” she said.
Coun. Scott Anderson agreed, saying the ranch is the epicentre of the region’s history.
“Frankly, it’s something we can’t lose,” Anderson said.
Lord urged council to approve funding for two more years, but opposition came from Coun. Bob Spiers and Mayor Akbal Mund.
“I think it’s irresponsible of council to give money to a society that’s making money,” Mund said.
He pointed out the ranch made enough money to buy new vehicles and hire staff over the past couple of years, and took issue with the fact that council has not yet seen financial statements from the ranch for 2015.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham also expressed some concern about supporting the ranch without seeing its financial statements, and said she’d like to canvass support from the region’s other municipalities to share the cost of subsidizing the ranch going forward.
“This to me is irresponsible to… say we’ll continue with the funding without any financial statements and without seeing if we can get our regional partners,” Cunningham said.
Lord later reworded her motion to compromise with the rest of council. The final vote was to continue funding for one more year, contingent on the ranch supplying financial statements and a full business plan. It passed with Mayor Mund, and Coun. Spiers opposed.
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