By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 1:14:55 EST PM
An attempt to rein in city staff participation in a Caribbean aid program fell short Monday.
Barrie Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth wanted a business plan which included program details, staff time involved, mission frequency and annual reporting before council supported the program.
“I’m bothered about this being a five-year program and having no facts about what we are approving,” she said. “It’s unfair to the next council and disrespectful to the taxpayers.
“Unless we are over-staffed, there are bound to be negative ramifications.”
“There is some vagueness in what is being asked of the municipalities,” said Coun. Arif Khan.
But a majority of councillors voted against Ainsworth’s motion, and approved staff’s involvement in the Caribbean Local Economic Development Program, which is co-ordinated and operated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
This means the city will allow staff time and expertise to help developing nations in the Caribbean. The payback is aiding less fortunate people and an educational experience for city staff.
“FCM has been providing this type of aid for many, many years,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “The details of the missions are not known. FCM is wanting to know if we are interested.”
“The parameters of the missions have not been set,” said Richard Forward, the city’s general manager of community operations
Last week Ainsworth asked city employees to volunteer their time to participate, and use their vacations – instead of doing it on city time and being paid. That motion was defeated. She also wanted to know how this program benefits Barrie taxpayers.
FCM covers all travel, accommodation and meal expenses for its aid programs.
The federation’s goal is to help developing countries with safe drinking water, planning for things like land settlement, developing small business and export programs, governing and community health.
FCM will use expertise from a pool of Canadian municipalities to help 14 nations, including Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Belize, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia – all members of the Caribbean Commonwealth.
This is a five-year program and two missions, of two to three weeks, would take place annually.
In order to participate, council must endorse participation by the city, and by extension, its staff.
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