How much money did Summer in the Park lose this year?
It's a question many are asking, including city council members. Councillor Mike Anthony has asked that they be released before the election so the public will know where the candidates stand on the issue.
But the City is digging its heels in. A recent Freedom of Information request from a concerned citizen, Kevin Ferris, was denied.
Ferris made the request Aug. 14, asking for ticket sales and attendance. City Clerk Karen McIssac denied the request by letter, saying the information would be published within 90 days.
Ferris wonders why, since all sales were online or through the Battalion box office, numbers wouldn't be known almost immediately. Wristbands weren't an issue this year.
The committee had projected an $11,000 surplus and ticket sales of $320,000.
On the expense side, it cost $425,000 for entertainment alone. Add in the city's contribution of $80,000 and Ferris believes the loss may be around the $300,000 mark.
"We know the budget, all we need to know is the ticket revenue," said Ferris. "The Battalion have that in the computer. If we speculate they had $70,000 we know what kind of hole was blown in this budget.
"Whether you are on one side of this festival or the other, we need to know before the election so that the candidates can take a position on the festival."
Councillor Mike Anthony, who first asked that the numbers be quickly released, agrees. He started by sending an email to city staff asking if efforts could be moved along.
"They told me they were waiting to get a fuller picture, like how full the hotels were. But whether we have the hotel info, I believe the other basic info should be available on what the budget was, and what was spent, and what the loss is."
Deputy Mayor Sheldon Forgette would also like to see the numbers released before the election.
"I agree they should be released. I would also support attendance records being released every year in a consolidated manner to make it easy to read for everyone."
Erin Vaughan, Community Event Facilitator told BayToday it's not up to the city to release the numbers.
"You'll have to talk to our chair Geoff Richardson," she said today. "He's the chair of the festival so he's the spokesman."
But Richardson was surprised by Vaughn. "Up to me?" Richardson said when told of Vaughn's statement. "I think it's up to the city staff as far as the meeting I had."
He says he doesn't know when the city will release the numbers.
"We met on Wednesday and I've yet to hear back from John Severino (Managing Director - Community Services). He needed to finalize the numbers and there is an economic impact statement going on as well. I certainly don't have them (the numbers)."
There is speculation that city staff are preparing an economic statement on the impact of the festival to go along with the release of the numbers in an effort to soften the hard actual figures.
BayToday reached out to Mayor Al McDonald for a comment but received no reply.
However, his rival in the mayor's race, Gary Gardiner said, "In terms of transparency, the attendance records were available to the organizing committee the very next day, so why not release the numbers to the public? If the event was wildly successful the numbers would have been splashed all over the news outlets in seconds.
"The committee was bold enough to try something different and kudos to them for all their efforts. I still think the citizens of North Bay have a right to know the numbers now and not after the election."