NANAIMO — The City of Nanaimo is expected to financially help organizers of a proposed downtown aquatic science centre.
Councillors at Wednesday's finance and audit committee meeting voted 4-3 to recommend providing up to $65,000 to the Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association. The group had asked for nearly $130,000 for feasibility studies and architecture proposals after originally claiming they only needed waterfront land from the City, not money.
“If we believe it's a good project for the City, I think we should put our money where our mouth is,” coun. Ian Thorpe said. “I think they do need some seed money and I don't have a problem with fundraising for them. I think that's a wise move.”
Much of the discussion Wednesday morning was whether to match money provided by other organizations up to $127,000 or simply provide half of their ask with the expectation organizers would gather the remaining funds themselves.
Many councillors voted in favour of providing the money in a lump sum for convenience.
Coun. Jerry Hong said he had serious reservations about what the association was asking of them, since City money was supposedly never going to be requested.
“They gave us an ultimatum 'If we don't get land, we can't apply for funding.' That's why we gave them land and then they were supposed to go off and get funding,” he said.
Hong also said it was “ludicrous” the association was asking for money to create a feasibility study, saying he'd expected more work to be done on the project beforehand.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong agreed, saying councillors expected full reports and business plans from many of the organizations which came before them.
Armstrong, Hong and coun. Gord Fuller were opposed, while mayor Bill McKay and coun. Jim Kipp were absent from the meeting. The recommendation from the committee will now go to a future City council meeting where it's expected to receive final approval.
The $65,000 is provided from Council's contingency fund and will clear out the account, leaving no money for the rest of the year for unexpected issues that may arise.
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