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LETTER: Council must keep closer eye on financial support for Mary Winspear Centre

As reported, the Mary Winspear Centre had its charitable status revoked recently by the Canada Revenue Agency for failure to file required financial information.

It should be of great concern to mayor and council, and the taxpayers they represent, that this happened and that they knew nothing about it (according to press reports) until late August of this year.

When I asked to see the funding agreement between the town and the Mary Winspear Centre I was told there was no such document. While many community organizations receive funding, many annually from council, none are treated more generously than the centre (in excess of $350,000 this year, not including property tax exemption).

The level of financial support is consistent with all that Sidney residents, and indeed the whole region, enjoy through the existence of the centre in this community. I understand there is a forensic audit of the centre underway and that an agreement on financial support is being negotiated. I assume the results of both will be made public.

It is clear too that the council will have to take a careful look at the role of council liaison to the centre. While board membership may create legal issues, a more robust role than has been the case is clearly warranted. Had such been in place from the beginning perhaps there would be no issue over charitable status today.

John Treleaven


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