The parade held each summer during the Clare festival is one of many events that reflect its “joie de vivre.”
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
While the Municipality of Clare says it recognizes the value of the work that YASTA does, it also says financially it’s just too much for it to be a full member of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association while, at the same time, also funding its own municipal tourism department.
And so because of this the municipality has approved a notice of motion to withdraw its membership from YASTA.
“It’s not an easy decision by any means, it’s something we’ve been discussing for a while,” says Clare Warden Ronnie LeBlanc. “But it comes to a point, how much money can you spend on tourism when you have other issues?”
While tourism is a priority for the municipality, LeBlanc says, there are many areas in which the municipality has an onus to spend tax dollars.
As it is, the municipality is already funding its own tourism department. Warden LeBlanc says last year the municipality provided around $158,000 in funding to its department.
On top of this, he says, the municipality also provided around $40,000 in funding to YASTA. He says council was being told that the amount of money it was going to be asked to contribute to YASTA was going to increase.
“In the last few years YASTA has been looking to grow and expand. For the town and municipality of Yarmouth who don’t have a tourism department it makes sense, but for us it’s extra costs,” he says. “So it came to the point where we felt that we can’t keep growing our department and YASTA at the same time.
“And by limiting our contributions, we’re basically holding YASTA back, there was discussion about that as well,” he said.
The warden says the municipality’s tourism department has been in existence for a long time.
“I’ve been on council for 13 years and it was there before I even got on council,” he says. The municipality’s tourism department primarily promotes the Municipality of Clare, although LeBlanc says it does partner with other areas – the Digby area, for instance, during the annual Wharf Rat Rally. LeBlanc suggests the department would also be opening to partnering with YASTA on projects, such as promotions tied in with the Yarmouth ferry.
“But at one time or another council had to make a decision to be all in YASTA or basically leave, because it’s difficult to be an equal partner when we can’t contribute to an equal amount that they would like us to contribute,” he says.
Meanwhile, another motion dealing with whether the Municipality of Clare may provide an operating grant to YASTA is still up for discussion. To be decided is whether the municipality would provide an operation grant of $25,000 over three years. It was discussed at council’s February meeting but there was disagreement so the matter was tabled until council’s next meeting in March.
Warden LeBlanc says the motion is meant to recognize the fact that the work YASTA carries out is important to the region.
“Basically it’s saying we’re not on the management board, but we recognize the value and the contribution to the area,” he says. “ There was a lot of discussion and a motion was made to table it to the next meeting to give councilors the opportunity to really think about it, instead of just defeating it and moving on.”