SUMMERSIDE – Comments made by the chairman of the city’s community services department surrounding the use of profits from lobster carnival, are not shared by other members of council.
© MIke Carson/Journal Pioneer
Councillor Jim Steele wants profits from the lobster carnival to go to service organizations. Other councillors want any revenue generate to go back into the carnival as seed money to grow the event and make it self-sustaining.
City council is taking over ownership of the Summerside Lobster Carnival and at their December city council meeting voted to hire an executive director to oversee the annual event.
Following that vote Councillor Jim Steele said the profits from the lobster carnival would go to the city coffers for distribution to various service organizations within the city and would not be used as seed money for future carnivals.
Councillor Tina Mundy, the city’s liaison to the lobster carnival said, giving the profits to service organizations was not discussed by council but to have the funds returned to the carnival committee was an option.
“I’m reaching out because of the article that was in the paper the other day just to clarify a few things,” Mundy said. “I am the liaison for the lobster carnival so I’ve been working on this for months. I can speak to where we are at now.”
Mundy said a lot of the discussions surrounding the proposed changes in the lobster carnival were conducted in the committee of the whole (closed session) and cannot be made public.
She said the comments that were made by Steele that if there were any profits raised from the lobster carnival, it would be going to services clubs – “there wasn’t any discussion about that,” she said.
“I received emails from all of council and staff members over the last couple of days clarifying the fact that it’s our understanding that what has been discussed was how lobster carnival got to where it was.”
Mundy said there were two issues - the hiring of a permanent executive director to oversee carnival and seed money for future carnivals.
“They didn’t have a full-time person working year round on this, somebody that would come in year after year with the knowledge and grow the event,” she said. “The other thing was used as a fundraiser for the service clubs. The money would be divided at the end of the event. So, every year the lobster carnival would be starting from scratch with no seed money. Those were the two issues we identified and wanted corrected.”
Mundy said the goal would be to have carnival be able to sustain itself as it grows.
“That’s the conversation that’s been going on at the board level and that’s what’s been discussed and was confirmed in emails over the last couple of days from council,” she said. “This event, we don’t want to lose it. Council takes it very seriously that this is part of our community; this is part of our culture in Summerside. To go back to the way it was and dividing the money up among different community organizations, we’d be no better off next year or the year after than we have been in years past.”
Councillor Cory Thomas said he agrees that carnival needs to be changed.
“I’m not a proponent of doing the same thing we always did and expect a different result,” Thomas said. “The only reason I support the city taking on the carnival is if any money is raised it goes to sustain the position (of executive director) and any other revenues go back to carnival so it will be able to run on its own and to keep building it.”
Thomas said this is the only model that will work.
Councillor Jeff Sullivan said the profits generated by the lobster carnival should remain with the event to make it financially viable.
“The profits, if there are any, have to stay with the carnival even if it’s held in trust by the city,” he said. “It has to be kept for the carnival. Again, it’s a big ‘if’ because there’s no guarantee it’s going to make money. That was a central part of the idea that this could be made viable again. Without that I don’t see how the carnival can be financially viable.”
Steele said on Friday that work is underway to draft the paperwork to outline exactly how the carnival will be regulated.
“Council will have the final decision on how it’s going to proceed,” he said. “This issue is going to go back to management and all of the councilors will have a say.”
Steele said he stands by his opinion that the profits should revert to the city for distribution to service organizations.