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Cobourg Santa Claus Parade loses big supporter

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today


Cobourg council heard at this week’s committee-of-the-whole meeting that the Cobourg Lions Club must step aside as major sponsor of the annual Santa Claus Parade.

The news came in a letter from parade committee chair Ron Wiebe.

For some years, Wiebe’s letter said, the $10,000 cost of the parade came from three sources: $3,200 from the Lions, $3,500 from the Downtown Business Improvement Area, and the balance from community sponsors and entry fees.

Looking ahead, Wiebe said, the club has two realities it must face.

“The first is that some of our committee members are not representatives of any group and are not insured beyond their own personal policies. The second is that the Lions Club is faced with ever-growing challenges in its ability to continue funding the parade.”

The committee is prepared to disband, Wiebe stated.

“We are hereby requesting that council form a replacement municipal advisory or planning committee for the ongoing planning and implementation of the parade. In addition, we are recommending that the Town of Cobourg assume financial control and adopt an annual budget to ensure the ongoing operation and success of the parade.

“Please consider that existing volunteers on the parade committee would happily consider joining a new planning committee, bringing their experience and expertise as needed. All existing parade branding, website, imagery, documentation, etc. will be handed over to the replacement committee wherever necessary.”

What the town can actually do will be set out in a staff report that council requested.

This could be a tremendous financial impact, coming at a time when the town has already passed it 2017 budget, Councillor Suzanne Seguin noted.

“There needs to be some community engagement and partnerships established,” Councillor Debra McCarthy suggested.

“One of the things we are planning to do is review all the events that occur in the community on a regular basis and provide recommendations on what the municipal role should be and the level of our contribution,” director of parks, recreation, culture and tourism Dean Hustwick said.

Hustwick cited the example of one town staffer who contributes enormous amounts of time to many different events.

“The capacity of the organization is really getting stretched,” Hustwick stated.

“Finding a solution will take some time and discussion.”

In her previous council portfolio of community services, McCarthy worked closely with the DBIA, in support of what she termed “a huge and beloved event.” She advised council that planning for the parade must begin well in advance of its November date, especially when it comes to booking the bands.

“The $3,500 is the least of our concerns — we have drawn from contingency funds in the past for important projects,” Mayor Gil Brocanier stated.

“The important thing is, we have to make a decision as soon as possible, so we can proceed with the planning.”