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Council suite at Royal York stays

Prince Edward County council will continue to have a hospitality suite at the Royal York Hotel – at least for this year.
The issue was debated at the committee of the whole meeting Thursday at Shire Hall when a number of councillors were reluctant to spend the $5,000 the suite would cost at the combined Rural Ontario Municipal Association and Ontario Good Roads Association conference.
Councillor Terry Shortt said the County should maintain the hospitality suite this year because many people would be attending the conferences and would be expecting to meet with former road superintendent Steve Carroll, who passed away last year. Shortt noted Carroll was popular and well known at the convention and that a lot of people would not know of his death.
Councillors Jamie Forrester and Brian Marisett were quick to point out that this was yet another unnecessary cost to the taxpayers of Prince Edward County and that they would rather see the money go into the community. Forrested noted the room could easily be replaced with an open hotel room door.
Veteran councillors argued the convention was a good time to make important contacts and garner information through the hospitality suite.
Committee of the whole chairman Kevin Gale defended the suite.
“It’s not a drunk-up, it’s a meeting room,” he said. “This council has obtained a number of grants over the years from networking through the hospitality suite. Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.”
The cost of cancelling the suite would equal one day’s rental.

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  1. Lori Smith says:

    I am not totally opposed to having a hospitality suite for networking. The hotel does not stock it- we do, so instead on buying booze at the LCBO, why buy (limited amount) from the wineries and breweries in the County and stock it with only County made products – showcasing the County. Thus killing two birds with one stone – networking and Invest in Cheese all in one shot.

    The problem I have is the NUMBER OF COUNCILLORS & STAFF that are going on this ‘little holiday’. I have been to many company paid for conventions and you either have a sales organization that is trying to sell something, or you are going to a trade convention to buy something and you need a good deal, everyone else is just there to have a good time and the cost is an expense with no payback. There seem to be too many at this trough.

  2. debra marshall says:

    It is my understanding that the municipality has policies governing the number of conferences that councillors can attend in a year. Perhaps these policies should be revisited – updated to better reflect the economic climate and accountability, by defining the number of councillors that can attend one conference and how many times they can attend the same conference, as well as requirements of attendees – deliverables expected from County delegates i.e. written reports submitted to council on workshops attended. This way ratepayers can see value for their dollar. Policy review would certainly speak to some of the concerns expressed in these posts.

    Cancelling a hospitality suite may indeed result in a one day penalty cost, but $1250 is substantially less than $5000. Networking can be conducted anywhere. To state grants were received in the past because networking was conducted in a PEC hospitality room intimates that the project itself was not sufficient to garner government support if presented in a different venue. I find that difficult to accept.

  3. Thomas Marshall says:

    Totally agree with Doris. A suite is suitable if we are an exhibitor looking to close deals on products or services, but we are there as delegates. Depending on how many we are sending, my guess would be in excess 20K after all is said and done (not just the 5K). I guess that this can be recovered through increase service fees or better yet “The Bank of Shire”. Keep that printer running…

    During the election campaign, the themes seem to be “zero base budgeting” and “Fiscal restraint/responsibility”. Ahhh…the election is over, so it’s business as usual…the ratepayers will flip the bill and I am guaranteed 4 years of income anyway!

  4. Doris Lane says:

    Why should we pay for the councillors to go to Toronto and spend our money on their little holiday. If it is tell people that Steven Carroll had passed away they could put a death notice on the bulletin board. Of course the hospitality suite is not all we will be paying for. There is the travel, hotel accomodation and meals for each of the councillors that go.
    Come on Kevin we all know what the Good Roads convention has always been

  5. Samantha Stevens says:

    I find it interesting that the same arguments made in favour of the hospitality suite at the Royal York are similar to the reasons cited for axing the cheese initiative. Both are represented as networking and initiative building opportunities that don’t produce qualitative results yet create an intangible return on the original investment. Is it merely the difference in the sums of money involved that makes one expenditure valuable and the other not so much?

    I also wonder if the Royal York will be stocking this hospitality suite, or will local fare be on offer to enhance the county-flavour of this honey trap for the attention and interest for political VIPs.

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