Morinville provided support to Morinville Community High School’s mock collision prior to graduation last year. A motion by Councillor David Pattison to provide financial support to a Safe Grad initiative was defeated 3-1. – Morinville News File Photo
By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A motion to support the Morinville-Legal Class of 2013 Safe Grad initiative was defeated with a 3-1 vote in Council Chambers Tuesday night. Councillor David Pattison cast the only supportive vote in favour of his motion.
Council had received a request to support the Morinville Community High School’s 2013 Graduates Parent Committee’s goal to “provide a safe, organized and supervised atmosphere for grads and escorts at an undisclosed location immediately following the graduation ceremony, dinner and dance.” Though the group requested no specific amount, sponsorship monies would be used to offset transportation costs for the event in order to ensure none of the students or their escorts drink and drive.
Pattison’s motion was to provide $250 for the event, money to be funded from Council’s 2013 Public Relations Budget balance.
“Safe Grad is one of those initiatives where we’ve got parents working with their children, working with their young adults,” Pattison said. “I believe that providing funding to this group would be very appropriate for public money for that very reason.”
Pattison’s only concern was what dollar amount to assign the motion. He ultimately settled on $250 after learning the value of the bus rental was approximately $500.
But other members of Council had bigger concerns with spending taxpayer dollars to support what some saw as an underage drinking event.
Councillor Sheldon Fingler took issue with spending public money on private drinking. “I think the idea of Safe Grad is an important part of our community, and it’s a great thing to do to keep the students and our future leaders of our community safe; however, I do have concerns putting taxpayers’ dollars towards a Safe Grad event that involves underage drinking, and many other different factors that relate to it.”
Fingler was not alone in his opposition. Councillor Lisa Holmes echoed Fingler’s sentiments. “I’ve thought about this more than anything else on the agenda,” she said, adding she felt tax dollars should not be spent on what in essence could be deemed an illegal activity. “As much as I support the initiative, it needs to be parent driven and parent funded.”
Councillor Gordon Boddez said he has supported Safe Grads for many years because they are proven to be safe. “But I also have some concerns about providing taxpayer money towards it,” he said. “I tend to feel it is more of a private event that is sponsored by the parents for their students to graduate, and it just doesn’t quite sit right with me for Council to be providing funding to support it.”
Both Mayor Paul Krauskopf and Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein declared a conflict of interest prior to the discussion and left Council Chambers during the debate and ensuing vote.