Town pro­vides grant to Mount Al­li­son for sum­mer youth camps

Coun­cil de­bates whether hand­ing over sum­mer pro­gram was right decision

Sackville Tribune - - NEWS -

right move.

“I have prob­lems with us turn­ing it over to the univer­sity,” said Coun. Vir­gil Ham­mock. “I be­lieve re­cre­ation pro­gram­ming is some­thing we should be of­fer­ing . . . it should be done in-house.”

The town de­cided last year to axe its sum­mer youth pro­grams and part­nered with the univer­sity to take over the opera- tion of the day camps.

The decision stemmed from rec­om­men­da­tions made in the town’s re­cre­ation mas­ter plan, which urged the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to move away from its role as a pro­gram­provider and in­stead fo­cus on of­fer­ing sup­port to other or­ga­ni­za­tions to run ac­tiv­i­ties and events.

But Coun. Bruce Phin­ney said he

isn’t sure that’s the di­rec­tion the town should be head­ing.

“We should be do­ing our own pro­gram­ming,” he said dur­ing coun­cil’s reg­u­lar meet­ing ear­lier this month. “I think we did a dis­ser­vice to this com­mu­nity by not be­ing able to pro­vide this pro­gram and not give jobs to our stu­dents.”

Coun. Joyce O’neil echoed her col­league’s con­cern.

“I think it’s a shame we threw that away, we let it slip through our hands,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Bob Berry said there are both pros and cons to let­ting the univer­sity take over the sum­mer pro­grams.

But he does un­der­stand the con­cern from towns­peo­ple - the cost of the camps went up last sum­mer and most of the stu­dents hired last year for the coun­selor po­si­tions were from Mount A.

Coun. Mer­rill Fuller­ton ar­gued, how­ever, that the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a sum­mer camp pro­gram on a univer­sity cam­pus - led by univer­sity stu­dents in first-rate fa­cil­i­ties - are huge.

“The ex­per­tise alone out­weighs what we were able to of­fer,” he said.

Re­bekah Cant, di­rec­tor of Sackville’s com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and pro­gram­ming depart­ment, also touted the ad­van­tages of the part­ner­ship with Mount A for the sum­mer camps.

“It ex­poses our kids to the univer­sity and the fa­cil­i­ties that they have there. And it gets us work­ing with out­side part­ners, which was one of the goals in the re­cre­ation mas­ter plan.”

And, of course, the town is sav­ing money by no longer run­ning the pro­gram it­self. Although coun­cil did agree to dish out the $4,000 grant to Mount A, the town is still sav­ing be­tween $16,000 and $19,000 by cut­ting the sum­mer camps.

In 2010, the last year of its op­er­a­tion un­der the town’s man­age­ment, the cost to op­er­ate the youth pro­gram was be­tween $20,000 and $23,000.

But Ham­mock ar­gued that ser­vices should not al­ways be cut as a penny-pinch­ing mea­sure.

“It’s not about cost re­cov­ery, it’s our youth we’re spend­ing money on,” he said.

Coun­cil­lors agreed to pro­vide the grant to Mount A this year to op­er­ate the youth pro­gram­ming be­cause they said the town isn’t in a po­si­tion to bring it back for 2012. But they also sug­gested they would re­view the decision over the next few months to de­ter­mine whether the town should re­con­sider its stance.

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