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Councillor envisions donation plan for city

Jun 21 2012

Victoria residents should have the opportunity to make donations or bequeath property to the city to help it achieve goals spelled out in its Official Community Plan, says Coun. Lisa Helps.

"I'm imagining an older person in Fairfield saying: 'I love this city. My grandkids live here. I want my grandkids to be able to live in a thriving, vibrant city that's affordable,' " Helps said. That person could leave their house to the city, which would then sell it and use the money.

"It would be with the exclusive purpose of making come alive the city's long-term plan."

An independent foundation could be established to administer the program, she said.

"It would be a private charitable foundation where people could donate money and/or leave their assets as a legacy to be deployed to carry out the objectives of the municipality in terms of the official community plan," Helps said.

Helps said she still has to do some research and sketch out the idea.

"But the principle behind it is a really creative, alternative way of generating revenue for the city in the long term using a mechanism that has been used by the private sector for a very long time."

Helps said the foundation would have to be focused and targeted.

"If people would leave their houses and estates to this foundation or leave a monthly donation of 10 bucks a month in perpetuity to this foundation, they certainly probably wouldn't want to see it used to repair a broken sewer main, for example," she said.

Instead, the money could be targeted at specific sections of the official community plan, such as arts and culture, she said.

Helps does not envision such a foundation holding or managing property. Instead, it would sell anything it was bequeathed.

She also sees the foundation being led and run by citizens, perhaps with the mayor and one councillor sitting as part of a nine-person board.

Establishing such a foundation requires a long-term vision on behalf of both citizens and council, Helps said.

"The people who do it now or over the next five years - will not see the benefits from it. They simply will not," Helps said.

"It's not a quick fix. There are a lot of quick fixes and there are a lot of not-so quick fixes. This is the 30-year vision that I'm trying to put a little piece in place of now."

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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