Council narrowly defeats motion to gut CBC funding

Cam Fortems / Kamloops Daily News
November 22, 2011 01:00 AM

Kamloops council wants to bring CBC Radio here, but it nearly passed a motion Tuesday asking Ottawa to cut its budget by more than 60 per cent.

CBC has asked council for a letter of support for its application to CRTC to grant a broadcast licence for Kamloops. The Crown corporation wants to bring a four-person studio here next year to provide a weekday morning program.

Bud Smith, a city businessman and former Attorney General in the Socred government of the 1980s, appeared as a delegation. He asked council to recommend Ottawa take $1 billion from the corporation's annual $1.2-billion subsidy, with the savings going to Canada's water and wastewaster infrastructure.

The entire CBC budget is about $1.7 billion.

Coun. Pat Wallace moved a motion asking Ottawa to cut $1 billion of taxpayer subsidy to CBC. That motion could muster only a tie vote, meaning it went down in defeat.

Wallace called CBC "an elite group that doesn't raise money to pay their salaries.

"The private sector does. I believe if you work, you get paid for it. I don't think taxpayers (subsidy) should be required in this day and age."

Wallace was the lone vote against another motion supporting the CBC application to the CRTC.

A number of councillors said it's not up to the City to advise Stephen Harper's government.

"CBC is national radioâ It's up to the federal government to determine their spending," said Coun. Marg Spina. "It's not our issue - sorry."

In an interview with reporters, Smith called himself "a big consumer of CBC," naming radio and Hockey Night in Canada in particular.

"CBC has lots of ways to raise money through advertisingâ . It has all kinds of capital tied up in buildings it could unlock."

Smith also said "instead of having three reporters show up to events, you have one."

Smith is a partner in a successful municipal consultancy based in Kamloops, with offices in Kelowna and Calgary. He was asked by reporters if his call for a $1-billion investment into infrastructure could be seen as self-serving.

"CBC itself has pointed it (decaying infrastructure) out," he said of the need for water and wastewater infrastructure.

Smith also said there's less need for infrastructure in the B.C. Interior, where his firm does most of its work.

Several councillors supported the motion asking Ottawa to cut CBC by $1 billion, arguing that it wouldn't come from the Crown corporation and was really a call for a general reallocation.

Several councillors defended CBC for its nation-building.

"It's one of the greatest things in Canada," said outgoing councillor Denis Walsh.

Council vote on asking Ottawa to remove $1-billion worth of subsidy to CBC and utilize the funding for infrastructure.

Yes:Milobar, Wallace, DeCicco, Lange

No:Bepple, Harker, Spina, Walsh

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