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(Adam Riley / Acadia Broadcasting)

Groups protest cuts; Council delays

By Adam Riley Jun 27, 2023 | 12:25 PM

Several dozen residents representing unions and user groups gathered at city hall Monday evening, speaking out against budget cuts to services and amenities operated by the city.

Deryk Fournier is the President of CUPE 87 says he was happy to see the turnout, hoping it would sway council’s decision.

“Once things are gone we’ve got to fight to get them back, so I’m really hoping it really changes their decision, and that they see that this is what we all want, we all want a place for our youth.”

Members of the youth hockey community were also in attendance, as one of the items listed in the cuts was the closure of the Neebing arena.

Lex MacArthur represents the Westfort Hockey Association and says the facility provides 1200 hours of ice to user groups and has come in handy when other infrastructure fails.

“A tournament last year, Neebing arena saved us when Delaney went down, we had not used the Neebing arena in our schedule and we were able to bump over to Neebing.”

Bus service was also on the chopping block, specifically two routs the 6-Mission, which services the Fort William First Nation and 4-Neebing.

A-T-U 9-6-6 President Fred Caputo understands the position the city is in but worries about the future of other routes.

“This is just a start of possibly a review of all the routes, and finding segments of routes that are under performing and possibly cutting.”

One full time employee will be eliminated should the city end the 6-Mission route, but Caputo notes it would be through attrition, meaning nobody would be laid off as a result.

Later that evening council spent a little over two hours debating the cuts, with many not looking forward to them.

As a result voted in favour of deferring several of the cuts, including the elimination of the Sister Cities Program ($25,000) closure of the Neebing Arena ($180,400), elimination of the Heritage Advisory Committee ($37,900), 31 outdoor rinks ($365,000), the cancellation of the 6-Mission and 4-Neebing bus routes ($293,800), and the elimination of non-emergency driveway culvert replacements, until after public consultation.

The deferred items represent a total of $902,100 of the $1,475,000 presented Monday.


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