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City snubs airshow, says former mayor
Organizer of biennial event upset after funding cut on short notice

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, January 16, 2015

Former mayor and president of the Yellowknife Airshow Society Gord Van Tighem says his organization was snubbed by the city when it decided not to award $10,000 worth of core funding for the first time in at least 14 years.

NNSL photo/graphic

Gord Van Tighem, former mayor and president of the Yellowknife Airshow Society, pictured here at last summer's event, says the organization was snubbed by the city when it decided not to award it $10,000 worth of core funding for next summer. - NNSL file photo

According to the minutes of the grant review committee, three out of 24 organizations - the Yellowknife Airshow Society, the Long John Jamboree and the Aurora Arts Society - were ineligible for core funding this year because their respective applications were deemed "incomplete."

But Van Tighem told Yellowknifer the justification given in the minutes does not provide the full story. He said he was notified that part of the society's application was incomplete last fall, but he quickly resolved the issue and received confirmation from the city that everything was in order.

Nonetheless, once the recipients were announced, Van Tighem said he received an e-mail from the Department of Community Services stating the society would not be receiving funding because there was no airshow scheduled to take place this summer. The Yellowknife Airshow is a biennial event with the next scheduled for 2016.

When asked why the airshow didn't receive its funding, Brian Kelln, program manager for community services, reiterated the reasons provided in the grant review committee's minutes.

However, when asked if the fact that there was no airshow this summer factored into the decision, Kelln admitted "that was one of the reasons."

Van Tighem said the airshow has happened in Yellowknife every second year, alternating with the Float Plane Fly-In, as far back as Van Tighem can remember.

Up until two years ago, the airshow society was responsible for organizing the two events, however, the Float Plane Fly-In is now run by the NWT Float Plane Association.

Van Tighem said the Airshow Society has traditionally operated at a loss in the years that it takes place.

He said the society depends on core funding in the off-year to balance its budget and prepare for the following year.

"It's a fairly significant event with 5,000 or 6,000 people involved," he said. "It's not like this is an event where we say, 'let's get together and organize this on

the weekend.'"

Van Tighem said the news came as a surprise to him, especially because the terms of reference laid out by the city state that an organization will receive at least one year's notice before its core funding is cut off.

Janet Pacey, president of Long John Jamboree, said the organization also sent in the necessary forms on time and has the e-mails to prove it. Long John Jamboree was due to make the transition to core funding this year after receiving special grant funding for three straight years.

"We had that application completed on time," she said.

Kelln explained the core funding model which the city has been using for the past two decades was supposed to be replaced with a new funding model last year.

However, because the proposed changes were not brought before council in time last year, community services decided to revert to the core funding/special grant funding model.

In the meantime, Kelln said the three organizations that were denied their core funding are eligible for special grant funding. The deadline for the funding, which received a total of 35 applicants, closed on Monday.

A total of $20,800 worth of core funding which wasn't allocated as a result of the decrease in eligible applicants is being used to boost the pool of money available to special grant applicants - up to $97,900 from $77,100.

While the airshow society did not apply for special grant funding, the NWT Float Plane Association has thrown its hat in the ring to support the Float Plane Fly-In.

Pacey said Long John Jamboree applied for special grant funding as soon as it found out it wasn't getting core funding.

"We are definitely very hopeful (we will get that funding)," said Pacey.

The jamboree was founded by city councillor Adrian Bell, who still serves on the event's board of directors. Bell could not be reached by press time.

The Aurora Arts Society and could not be reached for comment by press time.

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