In other words, to treat every group fairly, something that isn't happening right now, said Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett.
He cited the example of Winterfest, held in his ward last year. He contributed $11,000 of his $50,000 ward fund to help organizers, but found that money was quickly eaten up. City staff charged them for several things, ranging from rent of a city building that had no heat or water, and snowplowing.
“When it was all said and done, $6,700 went to the city,” Kett said. “The attitude is, you're on your own.”
By comparison, he said organizers of the Walden Winter Carnival are given many advantages, including the free use of the municipal arena.
“So they get the area free and I pay for a shack,” he said. “But what they do for Walden is right ... There is disparity, but the disparity exists because of amalgamation.”
Catherine Matheson, the city's GM of human development, agreed the uneven policies are a result of the creation of Greater Sudbury at the turn of the century, which created one city out of seven municipalities. After passing a single parks policy earlier this year, a draft policy for special events aims to create single rules for each festival.
“There is a disparity, we recognize that,” Matheson said. “We're tying to get guidance from you on how to proceed to the next step.”
Ward 2 Coun. Jacques Barbeau, whose ward includes Walden, said he supports a single policy, but would hate to see established carnivals lose out as a result.
“The last thing I want to see is for us to (negatively affect) another carnival,” Barbeau said. “But why are we charging for a building with no heat? Or charging for our own crews to do snow plowing?”
He described it as trading wooden nickels – the process of the city charging itself for services, paid out of city funds.
“We, as taxpayers, have already paid that cost,” he said. “There's numerous of those that could be taken off the cost of a carnival. I think that's where we need some clarification.”
And Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis cited a case from Onaping, where chairs at the Jim Coady Arena were taken at amalgamation by the city to add to its stock of chairs.
“They had to pay $1,000 to get them back,” Dupuis said. “Common sense has to come into play here.”
Matheson said the goal isn't to negatively impact anyone, but to raise the bar for everyone. Although the same resources will be ultimately be shared by all groups.
A final events policy should be ready for the next committee meeting in August.