Community fundraising

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

For the past several months, there have been numerous fundraisers for local fire departments.

Among many other incentives, there’s been the Cariboo Strong T-Shirt organizers, who’ve now raised over $100,000, a ghost hunt at 108 and the South Cariboo Fire Relief Fund, which has raised money through a number of avenues, including a Barkerville Theatre Royale concert in 100 Mile and cheques from various Lions Clubs.

Communities adjacent to the South Cariboo have seen similar fundraising efforts for local fire departments.

When I was picking up some things at the grocery store this weekend, I was asked if I wanted to make a donation to the BC Children’s Hospital. Other organizations in the community have been fundraising for health facilities for years, such as the South Cariboo Health Foundation.

The amount of fundraising done in our and adjacent communities has been absolutely fantastic and there’s no doubt that the work fire departments and the BC Children’s Hospital are and have done fantastic things and without a doubt deserve the money.

On the other side of the coin, these services are largely funded by governments with over 75 per cent of volunteer fire departments funded primarily through municipal tax dollars (British Columbia Training Needs Assessment, 2013) and the BC Children’s Hospital being an arm of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

When you think about it in that way, we’re holding fundraisers to help various levels of government pay for things we all collectively agree we need.

There are lots of other things that our community fundraises for that make perfect sense as fundraising targets such as the Mt. Timothy Ski Area; something that’s very nice to have but not an essential service.

Now I’m by no means saying we should stop fundraising for these services but it seems odd essentials like fire departments and hospitals partially end up funded by fundraisers. It’s even weirder to think that 85 per cent of firefighters in Canada are volunteer firefighters (according to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association).

I don’t know enough to point any fingers and a study on firefighting funding by the Fraser Institute concluded that “municipal governments across Canada are facing considerable budget pressures. Some are arguing for greater resources—including new revenue sources—to cover these and other costs.”

It’s just a little mindboggling that if my house catches fire, the people showing up will be volunteers there in part through charity fundraisers or that if my son were to need specialized pediatric care that the care may be partially funded by grocery store donations.

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