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Seeking input on Feed the Meter campaign

By Ross Lees
Despite an effort by Prince Edward County councillor Jamie Forrester to bring the Christmas time Feed the Meter campaign decision back onto the table, the majority of council prefers to await results of further consultation with the business community.
Forrester told council Tuesday that he had done some research on the Learning Foundation’s downtown Picton parking meter campaign, where funds are used to help fund breakfasts and snacks at Hastings and Prince Edward schools. He found 30 per cent of elementary school and 60 per cent of secondary school students show up for school without having breakfast or lunch. He said the Feed the Meter program was far too important to delay the decision and that it was appropriate for the motion to be over a four-year term even without the Picton Business Improvment Area’s involvement.
Councillors Barry Turpin and Bev Campbell jumped to the defence of the original motion, with Campbell noting that the BIA had developed the original Feed the Meter campaign and that it was only right they should have an opportunity to make suggestions concerning the future of the program.
“We didn’t give them an opportunity to comment the first time,” Campbell said. “There is plenty of time for consultation on this subject. The BIA never said it was opposed to the the program and I believe we should have the courtesy to give them an opportunity to give some feedback on the topic.”
Councillor Kevin Gale agreed.
“They’re a stakeholder in this program and they should be a partner in this decision,” he said. “Let’s show that we’re not going to be a dictator about this. Let’s get all the partners at the table.”
Meanwhile, the Picton BIA is seeking input from its members, having sent the following:

Dear Friends:
You may have read recently that the BIA opposed a proposal to adopt a fundraising initiative of a local charity during the holiday season. That is not entirely true.  What we opposed was that Council was being asked to adopt a holiday program for the next four years without having consulted with the business community.

The BIA reminded Council that Picton’s small business owners already contribute thousands of dollars, time, and goods to charities, sports organizations, and people in crisis in our community. In fact, the BIA worked very hard to convince Council to provide free parking during the month of December as a way to encourage residents to shop locally.
At issue is whether this initiative detracts from the spirit of the BIA’s “Spend It in Picton” campaign or enhances our spirit of generosity. We also expressed concern as to whether this initiative contributes to the aesthetic of downtown Picton during the holiday season since the Foundation attaches signage to the meters which prevents wrapping the meters with bows.  This was based on the feedback we received during the most recent holiday season.

We need your input.  Do you:
Support “Feed The Meter” by offering free parking during the holiday season? ___yes  _____no

Support entering into a multi-year agreement in support of ‘Feed The Meter’? ___yes ___no

Believe this initiative detracts from offering free parking as a means of encouraging residents to shop locally? ___yes ____no

Believe holiday decorations should include wrapping meters with bags/bows as they have in the past? ____ yes ___no

Believe this is a non-issue and believe we should support the proposal as requested. ___yes ___no

Have any suggestions as to how we might collaborate differently to support The Learning Foundation and charitable causes locally? Please explain on the back of this paper or email your thoughts to Roni Summers Wickens at roni@experiencepicton.com .

I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for your on-going support of the BIA as we strive to sustain a charming, vibrant, and economically prosperous downtown.

V. (Roni) Summers Wickens
Executive Director

BIA asks to be consulted before council ‘feeds’ others

By Ross Lees
As much as Prince Edward County council seems to want to keep the lines of communication open, their carrier just keeps dropping the calls.
At Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, Roni Summers-Wickens, Picton BIA executive director, was on hand to let them know the BIA had been taken by surprise when the County suggested the Christmas season free parking Feed the Meter campaign be extended for four years.
Summers-Wickens chastised council for its lack of communication, especially since it was the BIA which has been the figurehead of the campaign – a campaign which many other organizations now want to support.
“We would have expected the BIA to be consulted,” Summers-Wickens noted. “Especially since the motion is not just for this Christmas period, but for four years. We would ask that you refer the motion back to staff for further consultation.”
Summers-Wickens countered that the local business community already contributes thousands of dollars through goods and services to charitable activities in the region every year.
“Whenever there is an emergency, fire, or illness, business owners are there to support Picton’s needy.  Small business already does its share to support the community through charitable giving or sponsorships to children’s activities such as through sporting organization such as sponsoring baseball, hockey or soccer teams.
“I believe that the BIA and its membership should be consulted before County decisions relating to the downtown – regardless as to the worthiness of the cause – are instituted,” Summers-Wickens said later. “The idea of offering free parking in downtown, after all, was implemented as a way to promote support for our local economy during the holiday season. (Spend It In Picton Campaigns).  It was also a way for local merchants to thank our community for their on-going support.”
“This is a good cause and the business community has to be a key part of it,” said councillor Kevin Gale.
Councillor Dianne O’Brien was surprised to hear the BIA and the business community as a whole had not been given an opportunity for input.
Councillor Heather Campbell said she felt the process had been violated and the decision should be deferred until the BIA has a chance to give some input.
The decision was deferred pending council approval.
The Feed the Meter campaign raises money for food for children at local schools.

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  1. Heather says:

    Hats off to Councillor Jamie Forrester for trying to save a much need feed the meter program that helps to feed the students of our county and to any councillors who support the program. Sometimes we have to stop, look at the big picture and think of all the students who are supported by this program and all the volunteers who committ time and money to the program. I’m really sadden by the thought that our local businesses would not want to support such an important cause. No one forces you to feed the meter in the month of December and the meters are clearly mark to indicated that. Decorated meters and free parking (which is still and option if you do not want to donate) is not going to stop people from shopping in Picton.

  2. Killashandra Ree says:

    So the BIA is taking credit for a program it did not initiate (feed the meters) even though they did start the free parking for christmas & they are now asking their members to choose to allow another charity who wants to ‘get in on it’. As John says, the Hastings Prince Edward Leaning Foundation has earned the right – they thought of it first. If the BIA wants useful input they should get it from the people who shop at their stores. My experience with other BIAs is that they use the funds they receive to help beautify and create a “look & feel” to the business community by setting store front signage and outdoor display guidelines. If they had been doing that, maybe we would not have mish-mash of old and new buildings with no cohesiveness along Picton Main St. Where were they when the banks built their buildings? the new post office? and what will the new Shoppers Drug Mart look like? Did they raise a peep when the McDonald’s was built and obscured the beautiful Loyalist mural that council had commissioned? Where is that mural today?

  3. John Thompson says:

    Doris, this program was not initiated by the BIA but came from a request last year form the Hastings Prince Edward Leaning Foundation. I had to persist and bring it back onto the Council table after Council first deferred it to what would have been never never land.

    The County owns and services the meters, free parking remains and the public is given the opportunity to contribute to this signature fundraising program of the Leaning Foundation. It is a most worthy cause and I suggest that the BIA should just get over it. Another charity should not be allowed to steal the program. The collections are done by a salaried staff person so that cost should not come into the discussion either.

  4. Wayne says:

    C’mon, easy to go to those ‘bad BIA’ people.

    The BIA didn’t say they wouldn’t support the program. They said the County had not bothered to talk to the BIA before making a decision about what should happen downtown. Businesses downtown should have a say in what happens since in the end, they are the ones that keep our downtown moving.

    Those bad BIA people for wanting to talk to each other before making decisions.

  5. Brian Marisett says:

    Right on Doris, this is a great program for our kids. For the life of me I can’t understand the position of the Picton BIA on this one. They had a chance to come to Council and support this initiative and offer to do whatever they could to enhance, promote and assist, could have been a win win for everyone but instead the Picton BIA cast a negative shadow on the program, Council and themselves.

  6. Doris Lane says:

    It is the council that pays for the upkeep and meter person to look after the meters, so why shouldn’t the council decide where the money is going from the meters.
    Maybe the BIA initiated the idea but why are they getting bent out of shape because council is extending the program
    Council is the representative of the people in the county not the BIA

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