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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Massad

Kirkland residents divided over $20,000 donation to Ukraine from the town

Should using municipal resources for gifts and charitable donations be accepted at the muncipal level?

Since January 2014, Canada has committed more than $890 million in multi-faceted support to Ukraine which includes but is not limited to

  • development, humanitarian and financial assistance

  • peace and stabilization operations program

  • the Canadian Police Arrangement.

Since the onset of the crisis in 2014, Canada has provided more than $64 million in humanitarian funding to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement and other non-governmental organizations to support the delivery of urgent assistance to conflict-affected populations in Ukraine. This includes the provision of:

  • emergency basic health services

  • safe drinking water

  • food assistance

  • protection support

  • shelter

  • essential relief items

It is safe to say nobody, in our corner the world, wants other human beings to suffer at the hand of war. Political egos and strife come at a tremendous cost to civilians just wanting to make ends meet and live their best lives. That said, is it the mandate for Quebec municipalities to donate money to a cause that is not within their purview?

Social media was buzzing when the town of Kirkland voted for a disbursement of $20,000 at the March public council meeting. Those supporting the donation to the Ukrainian arm of the Red Cross, felt it was important to show support in this difficult time.

"Personally, $20K is not all that big an amount but a nice gesture…imho," stated one resident. "What I would want, is to be sure than the monies got to the right organization and that all of it would benefit the Ukrainian people."

Others felt that it was not up to the sitting council to issue donations on behalf of the taxpayer. One resident stipulated that there were many countries with civil upset and how can the city choose which ones are worthy?

"I feel this should be done at a federal level, not a provincial or municipal level," said one Facebook user. "If private citizens wish to donate and the feds matched the donation dollar for dollar, that would be great. We are all fortunate here in Kirkland, and $1 per resident is a small amount for us to donate - but has it set a precedent? We did nothing for Syria and other conflict zones."

Kirkland Mayor Gibson was quoted in January in the Montreal Gazette as understanding the taxpayer's plight after setting an increase of 3.75% for the average home.

“I know it’s not easy but for the average house it’s a small increase, but it still hurts,” said Mayor Michel Gibson stated in the January report. “For the average house it represents ($13.66) a month more. Any increase is not good.”

It would seem that the sentiment did not hold long-term. According to Gibson the tax hike was due to the rising cost of living and the pandemic.

Gibson stated that the costs of everything have gone up dramatically since Covid. The Montreal portion of the Kirkland taxpayers bill was increased by 11.8%. Kirkland residents pay more than 50% of their overall budget to Montreal, accounting for $34 million out of the cities $67 million.

The Montreal agglo expenses also increased $3.65 million, or 11.8 per cent, over last year. Agglo expenses of $34,435,900 account for 51 per cent of Kirkland’s overall budget of around $67.1 million.

Should Kirkland residents tax dollars be included in the relief mission or should the Federal government continue to be the one body of government that contributes to wore torn countries in crisis?


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