During a meeting earlier this week, Calgary City Council agreed to donate $25,000 of tax revenue towards disaster relief aid in Haiti.
A group of elementary school students on a field trip as part of a lesson on what it means to be Calgarian, which became a theme for the duration of the discussion, were present when Councillor Pincott put forth the motion.
Pincott stood before council and explained that Haiti was still recovering from an earlier earthquake when a hurricane devastated the island nation.
Pincott said that after the hurricane, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities provided money that entirely went towards infrastructure recovery, and went on to list Canadian cities that had already given to the cause.
“Kids, this is who we are,” Pincott said, looking from the council towards the public audience. “We have never hesitated to reach out and help.”
Councillor Sean Chu voiced concerns over the donation, saying that although he is sympathetic to the plight of the Haitian people, there are also Calgarians who are in desperate need, and would rather see money going to the people of the city.
“The pie is only so big,” Chu said before reiterating that he is sympathetic toward the cause, and encouraged individuals to donate what they felt was appropriate by their own free will.
Councillor Druh Farrell readily agreed to the proposal, and brought up the charitable aid that Calgary was given by municipalities around the world during the devastating flood of 2013.
“We have a rich tradition of sharing our expertise,” Farrell said, and suggested that if we do not send humanitarian aid, we may not receive it in the future.
Pincott finished his statement, saying that the cause is one that’s very close to his heart, and he will be personally donating $500 dollars.
The controversial matter went to a vote and passed, 8-7.
Gabriel Lam, a Calgary resident and taxpayer approved of the council’s decision, but understood that it could potentially upset others.
“Personally I’m fine with the decision the city made. When I heard about that disaster, I donated to Red Cross last year,” Lam said, “However, to someone that might not want to donate, the city using tax revenue to do so is kind of like ‘forcing’ the public to donate the money they have given to the government in order to improve quality of life in Calgary.”
Megan MacLeod, another resident of Calgary and taxpayer, believes that the decision wasn’t the best one to be made.
“I think that those resources could be better allocated in our own city,” MacLeod said. “Not to say that it isn’t a worthy cause, but that Calgary has its own problems that could use the $25 thousand instead.”