City cost cutting up against groups’ needs
It’s fine for Ottawa to look for savings — but community groups don’t want it done at their expense.
With Ottawa seeking creative ways to trim more than $73 million from the 2008 budget, many of the 79 delegates that addressed council yesterday were quick to defend why their respective groups should be the ones to dodge the axe.
Even delegations from groups included in a recent motion that promised not to cut certain services spoke about the need for more funding, illustrating the tightrope councillors must walk between taxpayers’ expectations of savings and community groups’ demands.
One of the options is to withdraw funding to Arts Ottawa East, which would save the city $500,000 next year. That proposal brought out the group’s executive director Christine Tremblay yesterday to defend continued funding.
She was frustrated that Arts Ottawa East had to come before council again to justify funding that had been promised it for two years.
“It’s an insult to all the volunteers who have put so much time into planning something that will benefit the whole city,” she said. “Now at budget time we have to come in and defend it again. We’re getting worn out from fighting over this.”
For Cathy Jordan, executive director of the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, it was a relief to hear that community health and resource centres’ funding would be spared, but she said that even the status quo would result in service reductions, since increases are needed to keep pace with inflation.
Speakers Jordan and Sylvie Papineau said they had been speaking with councillors for sometime about the issue facing community centres are facing and were hopeful their funding would increase.
Since public delegations opened Monday, council has heard 133 submissions.
Public delegations into the 2008 budget continue today.