Sidney council will not formally sponsor an industry conference designed to highlight the seaweed industry, but may offer other assistance.
Council formally voted to receive a letter from Sidney-based Cascadia Seaweeds inviting the municipality to be a founding sponsor of the first annual Seaweed Days. The industry conference featuring virtual and in-person components is scheduled for May 17 to 23, 2021.
“We feel this festival will provide tremendous value to companies and organizations looking to align themselves with meaningful climate action,” reads the letter.
Council last year expressed its support for the festival spearheaded by the local company. Chief administrative officer Randy Humble said staff had initially recommended referring the request to the municipality’s grant-in-aid program.
“We discussed it and we actually don’t wish to make that recommendation, the main reason being that grants are intended for not-for-profit organizations and not businesses,” he said.
Humble said the letter did not make a specific request and suggested it might be more appropriate to simply receive the correspondence for information.
Coun. Terri O’Keeffe said she understood the letter as a request for sponsorship. “It seems like an event that is worth supporting in terms of a new business in Sidney, in terms of economic development…”
Coun. Barbara Fallot said she supports the business, but questioned whether sponsoring them would be appropriate. “There may be other ways in which the town can assist the festival, but I don’t think sponsoring is the right way to go about it.” Fallot said she would be interested to know if the municipality can help out in ways other than sponsorship.
While Coun. Peter Wainwright said the conference benefits Sidney, grant-in-aid support would be inappropriate. “We haven’t sponsored this kind of thing for businesses before. So I don’t think we should set that precedent. If there are other ways we can provide support short of financial I’d be open to it.”
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said the business has the option of returning with a more specific request for assistance after being advised of council’s resolution. “We certainly wish them every success,” he said. “It (the conference) would be very good for the community. It’s certainly appropriate to our connection to the sea as a seaside community.”
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