More than 21,000 meals secured by city for Burnaby seniors

The meals were funded by a voluntary council pay cut and grants from United Way and the Canadian Medical Association

More than 21,000 frozen meals have been or will be delivered to seniors in Burnaby thanks to a reallocation of council pay, and grants from the United Way and Canadian Medical Association.

In June, councillors voted to redirect 10% of their yearly remuneration to the city’s citizen support services department, which is, with help from more than 200 volunteers, delivering frozen meals to seniors struggling with food insecurity.

Between May 8 and July 9, funded by $35,809 from councillors’ redirected pay, 5,600 meals were supplied to around 80 seniors, according to a city staff report, and a further 3,571 meals were supplied between July 10 and Aug. 27, funded by a $25,000 United Way grant. Finally, an $85,000 grant from the Canadian Medical Association is funding 12,159 meals between Aug. 28 and Feb. 26, 2021. That’s a total of $145,809, funding 21,330 meals.

The 80-or-so seniors were identified after the city reached out to clients with existing programs through the city, according to staff.

Council originally voted to take a 10% pay cut to show solidarity with workers amid layoffs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coun. Dan Johnston later suggested the pay cut be used to help vulnerable people in the city, which was unanimously approved by council.

In a report to council, staff said the city is applying for another grant of $10,000 from the United Way to continue the meal delivery until March 19 next year.

On Monday, Coun. Pietro Calendino brought a notice of motion for council to continue their 10% pay cut and continue to redirect that money to the program.

However, because the notice of motion was not introduced prior to the meeting, giving councillors a chance to go over the motion before voting on it, Coun. Colleen Jordan brought up a point of order. To get a waiver on the notice of motion and get a vote then and there, Calendino needed a unanimous vote.

In a later statement to the NOW, Jordan pointed out that it was Johnston – a fellow independent and an ally on council – who brought the original motion for council remunerations to be redirected to this program, and the two would “most likely” support the motion.

However, she said she and Johnston have regularly faced similar points of order by the Burnaby Citizens’ Association councillors – Calendino, Sav Dhaliwal and James Wang – and the motion is not time sensitive.

“So, it is only fair to see the motion in its detail before voting,” Jordan said.

The issue will likely be voted on in the next council meeting.

Follow Dustin on Twitter at @dustinrgodfrey
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