The smell of barbecued ribs and brisket will continue to waft from Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park for at least another three summers.
At its meeting Tuesday, city council agreed to continue the city’s support of the Port Moody Rotary Club’s annual RibFest — which typically runs for three days over the third weekend in July — with an annual grant of $35,000 in money and services in kind.
But a motion by Mayor Rob Vagramov instructing staff to investigate a potential policy requiring local organizations to repay the city for any event grants they receive should their event make a surplus was roundly defeated.
“Taxpayers should get paid back first,” Vagramov said of his idea.
But Coun. Meghan Lahti said if such a policy were to be implemented, it would put an onerous burden on organizations that are run by volunteers without the time to do detailed accounting.
“I would fully expect we’d get pushback,” she said.
Coun. Hunter Madsen agreed, saying, “It would have a chilling effect."
Coun. Diana Dilworth pointed out the city receives tremendous spinoff benefits from community events that can attract thousands of visitors.
According to a staff report, the city’s support of RibFest consists of: staff support worth $12,400 for site maintenance and repairs as well as a waste management plan; support from Port Moody Police valued at $6,800; and $15,800 to rent and service portable toilets, rent a grey water management system, as well as waste bins, and to remove garbage from the site.
Last year’s event attracted 45,000 to 50,000 people, according to the Rotary’s past president, Ian MacPhail, of whom an estimated 30% to 40% came from outside Port Moody.
In 2018, RibFest made $92,000, with $82,000 going back into various community projects, including the Port Moody Soccer Club, Eagle Ridge Manor, Share Family and Community Services and the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society.