Brantford city council votes to keep Gretzky centre fundraisers
Brantford city council is sticking with its fundraisers.
City councillors voted on Monday not to opt out of the city's contract with KCI Ketchum Canada, the professional fundraisers hired in February to help Brantford raise $5.4 million for improvements to the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, including the sports hall of recognition.
Last month, Coun. Vince Bucci recommended ending the city's contract with KCI after the company – which is being paid $25,000 a month – brought in only $56,135 in the campaign's first eight months.
While acknowledging KCI's contribution, Bucci felt city staff and volunteers trained by the company could pursue the outstanding donations.
“I think it is the right thing to do because we're trying to save money and there's nothing wrong with that,” Bucci said at Monday's committee of the whole meeting.
Ending the contract effective Dec. 19 would have saved the city $75,000 for the last three months of its contract with KCI.
KCI fundraiser Karen Wilson said campaigns typically pick up speed the closer they get to the finish line.
“We feel very strongly that we're very much on track with our strategy and timeline," said Wilson, who reported that over the past two weeks the total amount of cash promised or in hand had risen to $136,135. "This is very consistent with other campaigns.”
Marilyn Campbell Davis of KCI, who is overseeing the Gretzky centre file, blamed media reports about Bucci's concerns for “eroding donor confidence” in the campaign. Prospective donors aren't sure what will happen to their money if KCI is not leading the charge, she said.
“In the recent past, we as a committee believe there have been only negative comments from council about our complex," said volunteer fundraiser Jeff Lee. "We need council to be supportive of this project.”
With the exception of Bucci and Dan McCreary, city councillors lined up to express their confidence in KCI.
“I think we need to respect the volunteers who've come forward,” said Coun. David Neumann. “We've invested money into this plan to make money. It doesn't seem right to abandon it when we know it's going to work. (Ending the contract) pulls the air out of balloons that are about to rise.”
Mayor Chris Friel and Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith echoed Neumann's pledge to volunteer for the campaign.
Though originally opposed to hiring KCI, Coun. Richard Carpenter did not support Bucci's motion.
“Once the majority of council has decided to go in one direction, all councillors should get behind it,” he said.
Wilson said the fundraising committee can “easily overcome” public concerns about cost overruns at the Gretzky centre.
“When we focus on the positives, we can turn them around,” she said.
KCI will collect $350,000 in fees over the life of its contract with the city, to be deducted from funds raised. Wilson expects half of the $5.4 million total will come from the top 10 donors.