BurlingtonGreen funded: $62,000 for this year - Mayor to consider adding to the amount in her 2025 budget

By Pepper Parr

March 20th, 2024



How did City council decide to fund BurlingtonGreen?

The decided to give the organization $50,000 and add $12,000 to cover the rent for the Pump House.

The query council had was around whether they could simply credit or not charge the $12,000 for the Pump House lease. Staff’s recommendation was not to go down that path, and instead continue to have them pay the lease fee and if we wished to enhance their budget to consider the $12,000 in addition to the 50,000.

BurlingtonGreen has a five year license fee agreement for the Pump House.

Councillor Nissan and Councillor Stolte moved and seconded the motion to give BurlingtonGreen (BG) a total of $62,000 for 2024 and to consider adding that amount to the 2025 budget.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

Councillor Nisan said: BurlingtonGreen offers a lot in exchange for what we put into it and that this would be a very strategic investment in keeping our community environmental green, and they do a lot of community work, that if we were to try to internalize it that the city would cost us exponentially more. They leverage a huge volunteer cadre for their events and their cleanups; I think they are essential. The way their funding from the provincial and federal government has changed is unfortunate but we have to deal with what’s in front of us here today. I think this one time increase is more than justified.

Councillor Stolte said she agreed with everything Councillor Nissan has said; I wanted to comment that it’s a bit of a confusing conversation. I look forward to the day when we move this one time funding into the budget.

From that point until the end of the discussion Council went back and forth with everyone making sure that they got to say how wonderful BurlingtonGreen is  – the problem council had was getting around the word “grant” so the motion says “approve one time funding as a fee for services”.

Those are the basic – everything else is background and a peak at the way Council goes about its business.

Alan Magi, Executive Director of Environment Infrastructure and Community Services explained: the $50,000 is a fee for service. It is directly related to work we are contracting with BurlingtonGreen. Confusing the issue Magi said: “ there is a delineation of it because it is not a fee for service, it is an essentially compensation for the fact that there is a fee that we pay.

City Manager Tim Commisso said his “preference would to add it on to the $50,000 fee for service.  “This is a fee for service. Recall last year we contracted BurlingtonGreen in the amount of $70,000. “I think it’s fair to say that the cost of providing those services, which are very similar in nature to what they provided last year, and that would be sort of closer to $70, 000.  So if Council chooses I think that this would be considered that the lease payments which is the $12,000 that includes HST the one in my memo did not include HST such as for that clarification, but this package really is that fee for service. The staff report that Lynn provided outlined some of those services that would be provided and then we would articulate those all into a more formal memorandum or service agreement, the staff would undertake that when we would actually contract with Burlington green.

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Bentivegna: “So are you saying that the $12,000 will be added to the $50,000 saying it’s not a grant ?

Councillor Bentivegna went on the record to say I’m going to Thank BurlingtonGreen for all the work you’ve done. Over the years they certainly have provided good service for the city and certainly keeping in mind with the environment. Having said that, my concerns here are we’re looking at funding one time and then going to look at funding in the future on a regular basis, perhaps up to $70,000. I’d like to see and hear more information as to what those services are going to be and requiring or contracting on a regular basis with timelines and so on as we would do with any procurement. That’s number one.

“Number two. Last year we gave $70,000, that came out of Community Development Fund. And that was not part of council approval process. Is that correct?

Magi: “That funding is approved by Council: the allocation was done through the Recreation Community and Culture department.  “We had a number of services that were identified, and we had an agreement with BurlingtonGreen to deliver those through that funding source.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Every member of Council felt the need to publicly thank BurlingtonGreen. Councillor Kearns explained that the support comes at a cost saying the issue had become quite a bit of a flashpoint for some conversations. “ I received emails when we were debating this first that said: “I’ll never vote for you again. I’m sorry that I did. I’m looking for a better candidate that’s more aligned with green initiatives.”

Council continued for an additional 36 minutes before arriving at the final motion.

Kearns: I really wanted to help correct that this is not just about the work that BurlingtonGreen is doing. This is about the process and being aligned with our appropriate policies in a way that it did previously.  We do not generally fund not for profits, and that is found in our policies that are appropriate.  When this moves over into a fee for service and a sole source agreement which is part of the motion that’s easier to support when a contract basis, but I just wanted to appreciate the work  BurlingtonGreen is doing however, going about this way makes it very difficult. I appreciative that this has moved out of tax rate stabilization reserve fund to one time funding and into a more appropriate one time reserve funding and then we’ll have the further discussions when it comes forward in the budget process. I have not been comfortable with this approach. I know it was tabled in the budget. It did. Not Pass in the budget. And I’m just very concerned that we are creating a precedent for other very noble not for profits to come forward for funding if they’re able to quantify the type of service that they’re providing to the city.

“We would normally do a cost benefit analysis or a business case to see and present to us whether these services should be sole sourced what the valuation of these services are, and whether it’s better to outsource them, which is what we’re doing or hire internally to do this work and align with this work recognizing the volunteer base that BurlingtonGreen does have.

“I just wanted to express my discomfort with the process. I’m glad that it’s unfolding in a more amenable way, especially in relation to the source of funding, the scope of work, the sole sourcing, sort of definition that we will be working with through the MOU and the way we will be able to reconsider this within the upcoming budget process.

Galbraith: This is really early consultation on the budget. It happens all year. As some of the speakers have noted consider this as a fee for service. There is no way that we could deliver this service for $62,000. So this really does protect our taxpayers from additional and quite frankly, unnecessary expense. But more importantly there this is a proven partner and has a very long track record of delivering these services. And I think in terms of our partnership model and our and our willingness to think outside the box in terms of how we deliver services. This is an example of exactly that to work with a trusted partner and it doesn’t mean we can’t have other partners doing other things for sure. And but let’s recognize the partnerships that we already have, and support those partners.

The final result: Councillors Galbraith, Kearns, Nisan, Stolte and Sharman voted for the motion as did the Mayor. Counsellor Bentavegna was opposed.

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1 comment to BurlingtonGreen funded: $62,000 for this year – Mayor to consider adding to the amount in her 2025 budget

  • David

    What about No! Does this council think they know the contents of the people’s wallets that they can donate our money to any cause?