What should have been a cut and dried motion to accept some grant funding led to a prolonged debate about what more can be done to help Prince Edward County residents.
On Tuesday night council was to rubber stamp some Rural Economic Development (RED) funding.
The County was approved for $15,000 to help implement town and gateway signage site plans, $10,000 for the County Food Hub and $5,000 for a digital marketing campaign.
Director of Community Development Neil Carbone told those around the horseshoe the money was earmarked and approved during budget discussions.
It still led to some controversy as Councillor Brad Nieman says the county’s priorities aren’t in order.
Acting Mayor Dianne O’Brien explains.
Nieman says the digital marketing campaign funds would be better spent here in Prince Edward County getting local people employed versus bringing people in from Ottawa, Toronto or Montreal.
He continued to say there are good people here who can’t find full-time work and if they do it’s seasonal. Then he continued to say there is also a housing shortage and nowhere for these new people coming here for work to live.
Carbone explained that according to the data they have, those facts simply aren’t accurate locally or even regionally and that they are seeing an increase in specialized skill sets that just aren’t available here.
Nieman still believed the funds would be better spent training residents of Prince Edward County instead of bringing people in.
Carbone says there are different programs and partnerships in place to address the re-training of people to get good jobs, as well as to address the housing shortage and work on youth retention.
The vote to approve the $5,000 for the marketing campaign passed with Nieman and Jamie Forrester being the lone dissenting votes.
The two other funding grants passed as well.