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Council 'inflicted serious public damage on our cause', Banting Foundation

Posted March 30, 2016

New Tecumseth council's decision two weeks ago to revoke the $10,100 grant to the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation (SFBLF) a committee led by mayor Rick Milne had recommended for approval, was answered in a strongly worded letter by its President, David Sadleir, suggesting "it is clearly time for us to re-think our role at the BHHP (Banting Homestead Heritage Park).

The SFBLF was incorproated in 2005 and a registered charitable organization since July 2006. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and supported by a senior Advisory Board, Diabetes Outreach team, clinical innovation teams, other partners, and many volunteers. In 2010, The Foundation committed to restoring, adapting and preserving the historic buildings on the 107 acre site of Sir Frederick's birth - owned by the Town.

Mr. Sadleir's March 23rd letter addressed to all of council, makes direct reference to Ward 4 councillor Fran Sainsbury who was most vocal in deeming the Town was already providing various types municipal support to the property's operation. The Foundation had requested $25,000 before the grants committee scaled it back to $10,100.

"If all of our supporters invoked that attitude, we would have to close down," wrote Mr. Sadleir. "Please clarify for us specifically to what types of support from the municipality are you referring. To the best of our knowledge, the only monetary contribution made to us directly by the Town out of taxpayer funds was the 2015 Grant of $10,100."

An excerpt of his letter is included below:
....This reversal is an ill-considered and damaging action, especially, in the face of having announced just a few days ago our 2016 Award publicly. It is also extremely demotivating for all the volunteers and dedicated folk involved in achieving our outcomes to date.

Your highly visible action reflects very badly on the Town that prides itself as being the birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting yet is unwilling to support the organization that has created the modern day context and publically accessible educational venue that creates substance for that claim.

You have inflicted serious public damage on our cause and our programs and we are at a loss to understand your motivation. You have placed us in a major dilemma regarding how to explain this action to our donors.

2016 is the 125th birthday of Sir Frederick Banting; not the best year to manifest lack of support. The Council earlier this year also failed to honour an agreement by the Mayor and the Parks Department Director to place a line item in the on-going Town Budget in support of building and site maintenance at the BHHP as is done for all other buildings owned by the Town.

Our attempts to get that corrected were thwarted by Council.We have created, for the Town of New Tecumseth, an asset worth well in excess of $1.6 million and at virtually no cost to the Town. It is an asset that benefits all the local communities and well beyond and in so doing, honours the legacy of Sir Frederick Banting, Canada's first Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of insulin. Our efforts have garnered a growing international reputation for the Town as a result of our programs to Fight Diabetes, a worldwide pandemic.

The Town approved the 2009 Master Plan for the Banting Homestead Heritage Park (BHHP) that required an expenditure in excess of $2 million to realize. To the best of our knowledge, little has been spent by the Town to that end. .....
Mr. Sadleir told Free Press Online via email this morning that "From our perspective it is a matter of ensuring the community has a complete picture of the relevant facts. We are preparing a Report to the Community."

Also contacted this morning, Ms. Sainsbury said Ward 5 councillor Donna Jebb has requested a review of the lease between the Town and the Foundation be added to an upcoming council agenda.

"The lease was signed by all parties in good faith and should be honoured as is, until amended in some fashion and adopted by Council," Ms. Sainsbury said via email reply to Free Press Online. "A list of all taxpayer money starting with the original purchase and all reserve contributions plus operating of the exterior done by any Town department can be totaled up and be part of that Agenda. This year alone is $43,000 for important projects. There is only one taxpayer."

The Alliston and Beeton Tottenham BIAs also were cut-out of the arts, culture, and tourism grant funds. Council extended the application deadline until the end of April, with $27,500 still available for allocation on June 6th.

"This (SFBLF) is a very hard working and deserving Group but in order to keep tax increases down as so many new members of this Council promised and they also made roads a priority in 2016," said Ms. Sainsbury, "there is only so much grant money to give out."

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri
Dr. Cam

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