Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s community for community development which determines what organizations or which residents obtain donations for leisure activities refused a $1,374 donation to the West Island Association for the Intellectually Handicapped (WIAIH) last month making the city the only West Island municipality not to contribute to WIAIH’s coordination of services effort.
Resident Philippe Vaugeois is a member of the committee and the father of an intellectually challenged baby but he was absent of the January meeting. When he heard of this, he took the matter directly to council during the public question period last Monday.
“Don’t you think it’s the municipality’s responsibility to offer services to their residents, especially the most vulnerable of them? I am referring to those with autism or an intellectual handicap. Isn’t it the city’s mandate to offer these people services?,” he asked Mayor Francis Deroo.
Vaugeois was especially ire after having consulted the minutes of the last meeting which showed that a resident was receiving a donation for his involvement in Irish dancing while WIAIH was receiving nothing.
Seemingly unaware of the situation, the mayor told him that the community development committee has a specific policy and that if WIAIH did not get a subvention, it must have been because it did not fit in with the policy.
WIAIH executive director Nathalie Chapman said last week that WIAIH had received a letter from the city saying that “in the current context of our committee, your request does not fall within our priorities. Therefore does not meet the criteria of our donations policy.”
WIAIH has been asking for donations to coordinate its leisure activities from all West Island municipalities since 1980 but hasn’t received a dime from Ste. Anne de Bellevue since 2009.
WIAIH, which offers leisure activities to 800 people across the region, usually divides the total amount needed for coordination services by the percentage of the total West Island population of each municipality and asks for a donation based on that percentage.
Although Chapman says municipalities often choose to give less than the requested amount, WIAIH annually receives funds from all West Island municipalities except for Ste. Anne de Bellevue which has not contributed since 2009.
However, Chapman played down the fact that Ste. Anne de Bellevue did not chip in saying $1,374 is not essential to the organization’s efforts. However, she did say it was important to have a sense of unity in donations, even if it’s symbolic.
“The $1,000 is not essential to us. But I think it is the participation of all municipalities demonstrates unity, a form of good will towards people with intellectual disabilities and it was always like this for the last 30 years. So yes, I would like to have all municipalities. It shows a willingness to help if everyone is onboard. Even if they pay only a dollar, it demonstrates a willingness that is important to me,” she said.