Council shuns memorial scholarship

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A proposal calling for taxpayers to pay for a scholarship in the memory of two High Prairie teenagers was denied by council at its Sept. 12 meeting.

Councillor Debbie Rose presented a proposal that a memorial scholarship for trades students in the names of John Linteris and Montana Blackwell be established. The amounts proposed were $1,000 or $2,000.

Rose proposed that the scholarship would help the community grieve and leave a legacy for the youth.

A very spirited debate followed.

Councillor Brian Gilroy said he spoke to 8-10 businesses and about 30 people, who told him the private sector should fund the scholarship, not local government.

And, God forbid, he asked, “In the future…how do you say no?”

Councillor Donna Deynaka agreed, after speaking to residents.

I, as well, got the same reaction,” she said. “It is not up to the town to do the scholarship.”

Rose disagreed.

We have a grieving town. A lot of raw, open wounds,” she said, adding council could also help educate and support youth and “keep the memory of these boys alive in this community.

It’s a small amount of money. We could put it in the budget and fundraise.”

An extremely sensitive debate,” said Councillor Michael Long.

I don’t believe it is our role as a town. I’m not sure it falls on the town.”

Councillor Arlen Quartly disagreed.

I’m an advocate in investing in youth,” he said. “It’s our role to lead, to invest in our youth.”

He also responded to Gilroy’s concern over setting a precedent.

What’s wrong with setting a precedent?” asked Quartly. It’s sad to say it takes a [tragedy] to do that. I see it as a positive.”

Councillor Brian Panasiuk noted council had created one scholarship already.

This is just expanding on that.”

These are people who pay taxes,” said Gilroy. “They love the idea but let it be done by the sports societies or the families.”

Mayor Linda Cox was also against.

I don’t think this is the business of the council. To me, this is the type of thing a community foundation does.

I don’t believe it’s the role of council to set up memorial scholarships.”

Rose persisted.

We’re the leaders of the community. I agree with Councillor Quartly. We can be the trendsetters.”

Voting against the scholarship were mayor Cox, and councillors Deynaka, Gilroy and Long.

Voting in favour were councillors Rose, Panasiuk and Quartly.

Share this post