VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – A controversial proposal made by a Victoria city councillor is being questioned by some and called tone deaf by others.
On Thursday, Councillor Ben Isitt suggested the Department of National Defence should help pay for events like Remembrance Day.
He says the timing was just unfortunate, with his proposal of sticking the armed forces with event bills falling on the same day as the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
“It’s basically that council direct staff to engage DND/Veterans Affairs Canada officials to seek to recover costs associated with military events in the city,” he said.
The suggestion came up during a debate on police budgeting as the city looked at whether it would increase funding for policing on Canada Day.
Isitt pointed out military departments have more resources than the city, and that “responsibility for commemoration and honouring veterans is more properly the responsibility of those federal agencies.”
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West disagreed with the Victoria councillor.
“Victoria has an operating budget of $245 million a year, which dwarfs my city and will dwarf most cities in British Columbia,” West said. “And yet somehow we’re able to have Remembrance Day ceremonies and other events to honour the service of our veterans, and we do it without a peep about cost because, quite frankly, the cost is minuscule.”
“Think about the cost that our veterans have born for all of us, and I think it’s a privilege for my city to be able to host and participate in such events,” West added.
The military has more money than the city, so why not make it pay for Remembrance Day? That idea from a Victoria city councillor isn't going over as well as he hoped (but he might have found a better time than the 75th anniversary of D-Day to pitch it)? On @NEWS1130 this morning https://t.co/bWhQTpgAv8
— Ash Kelly (@AshDKelly) June 7, 2019
“I think it’s worth trying to recover those costs, as Councillor (Jeremy) Loveday said, those entities have substantially greater resources — DND’s budget is about $20-billion, so it’s about 100 times, or 90 times the city’s budget,” he said.
Both of Isitt’s amendments to the policing motion passed.
Despite the timing, Isitt’s suggestion has raised some serious ire in the Naval region, with CFB Esquimalt right next door.
Online, Isitt and supportive councillors are being raked over the coals by people insulted that such an idea would come up on a solemn military anniversary.
Some reaction has been swift and firm, with one person on Facebook writing “Who voted this guy in anyway?”
While support seems to be waning now, Isitt was elected with more votes than any other councillor.
Isitt is defending his motion and blaming the alt-right for purposefully fanning the flames of controversy.