London Drugs says it will cover Victoria Remembrance Day costs on same day council’s taxpayer-funded lunches scrutinized

WatchThe furor continues over Victoria City Hall. Last week, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Councillor Ben Isitt put forward a request to ask the Department of National Defense and Veterans Affairs to pay about $15,000 dollars toward policing Remembrance Day ceremonies. The motion is going up for a vote Thursday evening, the same day when councillors are under scrutiny for taxpayer-funded lunches. The annual budget allotment for that is $10,000. Mary Griffin has more.

In February, Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt put forward a proposal the public hasn’t had much appetite for.

Isitt proposed Victoria council allocate up to $10,000 from new assessed revenues for catering costs.

“To foster efficiency and team building with working lunches at committee-of-the-whole in daytime and special meetings,” Isitt said at the time

The motion did pass and council now budgeting up to $10,000 for lunches during long council meetings. It didn’t capture much attention.

But then came June 6 when Isitt put forward a motion to ask the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to cover policing’s costs of Remembrance Day and other military events in Victoria.

“Responsibility for military commemoration honouring veterans is more properly the responsibility of those federal agencies,” Isitt said.

The motion asks city staff to try to recover some of the $15,000 in policing costs. And thanks to February’s decision, the discussion is happening while councillors enjoy that free catered lunch. Not everyone is on board with the free food, including the Grumpy Taxpayers of Victoria’s Stan Bartlett.

“The amount of money they are spending on catering, whatever that is, seems excessive. Seems to me that bringing a brown bag like they previously did is maybe a way of keeping in touch with the taxpayers,” Bartlett said.

On June 7, Isitt apologized for the timing of his Remembrance Day policing proposal, coming on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

“It was unfortunate the timing but I won’t apologize for standing up for the taxpayers,” Isitt said.

Then on Thursday, London Drugs offered to cover the city’s expenses for Remembrance Day ceremonies for at least the next few years.

“London Drugs has been in contact with the city, and our concern is that we want to focus to be on our veterans and current serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces and family honouring their sacrifices, and anything that distracts from that, we felt that we could we step up and take that distraction away so the focus will be where it should be,” Clint Mahlman, London Drugs president and COO said in Vancouver.

Isitt had no comment on the lunches or the motion about Remembrance Day on Thursday. The council will vote Thursday evening on approving $135,000 in funding to cover policing costs for events like Remembrance Day so the London Drugs offer may not be needed.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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