TRURO – A request by the promoter of the Dutch Mason Blues Festival for financial support from the County of Colchester has been soundly refused.
“It would be over my objections if we gave any money to this gentleman,” Deputy Mayor Bill Masters said, regarding the request from festival founder David DeWolfe, for $20,000 towards the upcoming 10th anniversary event, to be held at the Truro Raceway in Bible Hill.
Council has opposed previous funding requests from DeWolfe because of the fact that he will not provide financial statements of the event for public scrutiny.
In a letter to council, DeWolfe said the $20,000 request represents 3.5 per cent of the event’s budget of more than $575,000. He had also “respectably” suggested that council consider making a $20,000 donation as an annual contribution because of the economic spinoff and national and international attention it brings to the community.
“We believe this is not an unreasonable contribution to ask in exchange for the significant annual economic impact to Colchester County,” DeWolfe said, in his letter, of the estimated $2.1-million spinoff generated locally each year.
A number of councillors, however, balked at the request.
“The problem I have is, I’m dealing with someone I don’t trust,” Masters said, in reference to his alleged statement that some local businesses are still owed money from past events. “I can’t trust someone whose word is no good,” he said, while asking, “how would it look?” to anyone who may still be owed money, to see the municipality providing taxpayer funds to the festival.
Coun. Mike Cooper also expressed concern about the lack of financial reporting and he said the only way he would support a request “is to have legitimate (financial) statements” provided to council.
Some councillors, however, including Christine Blair, said the festival provides too many benefits to the community for council not to consider providing the requested funding.
“This is too big an issue, this is too big of an economic generator just to say ‘we’re not doing it,’” she said.
Blair and councillors Geoff Stewart, Wade Parker and Doug MacInness sided with DeWolfe’s request and voted against the motion to not provide the funding.