By Ron Giofu
The recently-installed sign at the Amherstburg library promoting the Belle Vue Conservancy’s fundraising request has drawn questions from a member of council.
Councillor Leo Meloche brought up the issue during the March 20 town council meeting and questioned the process of how the sign was installed.
“The Belle Vue Conservancy is an independent, non-profit organization that should have had to go through the process to have the sign put up,” said Meloche.
Meloche stated he was not opposed to the sign itself, and added he has participated in the fundraising process with a donation. What he questioned was how the decision was arrived at to erect the sign and didn’t believe the method used to put it up complied with what is written in the bylaw.
“I’m looking for fairness in the process,” said Meloche.
CAO John Miceli said the Belle Vue Conservancy is fundraising on behalf of the town of Amherstburg for a town-owned building, adding the municipality is exempt from its own bylaw.
“The long and the short of it is, the Belle Vue Conservancy is raising money for town property,” Miceli said.
Miceli said town council had the option of having the sign removed and having the conservancy go through the process, but no further direction was given.
Meloche wondered if another non-profit agency wanted to do something like put up a swing-set in a park, would they be afforded the same privilege for a sign since that is for public benefit like the Belle Vue property restorations.
The debate on the Belle Vue sign came a short time after the Amherstburg Rotary Club was refused relief to the sign bylaw to promote Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9. The Rotary Club wanted to have the ability to put up their signs for 28 days and be allowed to put up mobile road signs and wire push-in signs during that period on commercial and residential properties but the town will stick with its 14-day limit with no portable signs and event signs only allowed in front of commercial property.
The Belle Vue Conservancy has come to council, with the town agreeing, to partner with them on fundraising initiatives, Miceli added. He said the Ribfest was different in the sense that the town doesn’t dictate where the money goes whereas they do dictate where the $1 million they are trying to raise for Belle Vue will go.
“I think the argument is a little bit different,” said Miceli. “Even with non-profit groups, we don’t dictate where the funds go.”
Miceli pointed out the town holds the money collected by the Belle Vue Conservancy, something confirmed by director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau. Rousseau noted that the money is held by the Amherstburg Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the town.
The benefit of what the Belle Vue Conservancy and their fundraising efforts were not something Meloche said he had any argument with but noted he didn’t want the town to be seen as acting unfairly.
“I want us perceived as fair to every organization in town and every individual in this town,” said Meloche.