It’s called bending over backwards, or going the extra mile. When the Town of Parry Sound and Salvation Army realized that allowing the non-profit social service organization to dump its waste for free violated provincial rules for waste transfer sites, it left the Salvation Army facing several thousand dollars in unexpected costs.
As the need during a lackluster economic period increases, the Salvation Army could ill afford the extra cost of throwing away the thousands of unsalvageable items dumped in its donation bins – bins that some residents unfortunately use as their own trash site, getting rid of unusable bits and pieces of household items rendered useless.
The Salvation Army, by providing a drop off spot for donations, ended up disposing of other people’s trash. The town, bound by provincial rules for waste, could no longer afford to allow non-profit entities to dump for free.
It could have ended there, with the Salvation Army struggling to absorb $5,000 or more in unbudgeted waste disposal – cutting food, Christmas baskets or clothing contributions for the area’s underprivileged.
But town council members and staff chose not to ignore the plight of the charity. Instead, the town began to investigate how it could continue to allow the Salvation Army, and other non-profits, to get rid of their trash at little to no cost.
It turns out, those provincial regulations left little wiggle room. Again, it could have ended there.
But council members and staff pursued the alternatives, and last week settled on a grant system, using money from municipal coffers to try to alleviate the burden the Salvation Army will face.
It’s an empathetic move, a decision that shows council members and municipal administration care about the impact of the cost to the service provider. It’s yet another indication of the charity that sets Parry Sound apart.
This year, of all years, there is little room to maneuver amid the town’s budget. Debentures and matching grants for projects partially funded by the provincial and federal governments have meant our town has a refurbished downtown, new signs, a revamped arena and town hall, new sidewalks, sewer work and more. It also means every decision to spend municipal dollars is an agonizing one.
This decision, involving a relatively small amount of money, is a thoughtful decision we should all be proud of.