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Many councillors argued that the slides are important to Fort St. John, and the City should make sure they happen.
For the past two years, the City has sponsored five 50 foot slides, at a cost of $10,575. However, this year the Arts Council is proposing four slides of varying heights, at an increase cost of $12,100. The rise in cost is due to the difficulties in finding volunteers to complete the slides, so some payment for labourers is included, in addition to the professional carvers.
The City has already committed $112,200 to the annual event, as well as taking care of expenses for community celebrations and promotion, $22,000 and $25,000 respectively. Councillor Trevor Bolin pointed out that the project’s budget continues to grow, and more money keeps being asked of the City.
“It’s definitely something that’s widely used in the park, but where does it stop? There has to be somewhere that it stops because we can only put so much money into a project that’s used as much as this one.”
Over the past two years, council has recommended that the Arts Council seek sponsorship for the festival, in order to reduce the amount of funds requested from the City, and specifically to cover the cost of commissioned works like the slides.
Not wanting to lose the beloved slides, the suggestion was made to encourage organizers to find a sponsor for the slides, but to fund them if unsuccessful. However, that brought concerns that once the City commits, no more efforts to fundraise will be made. Councillor Larry Evans felt that the City should take on the project as something Fort St. John can be proud of, instead of asking the Arts Council to seek sponsorship.
“The Arts Council might have contracted the wall out and brought everybody else in, but this is Fort St. John’s project and it’s for the citizens of Fort St. John.”
Bringing up that the slides are used for weeks after High on Ice, Bolin concurred that it might be best for the City to take on the slides.
“We’re talking about these slides as if they’re High on Ice, but they’re not. All the kids that we see using them happens all winter long. The slides truly become something that we do, that we take on… and High on Ice is a complete separate entity.”
Other options discussed included reducing the number of slides or bringing in fewer professional carvers.
In the end, council voted to work with the Arts Council to come up with a policy for sponsorship or fundraising for the slides. If by December 15, 2011 an agreement has not been made, the City will commit to fund the building of the slides, with Mayor Bruce Lantz adding “it’s the only way to ensure” the slides happen.
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