St. Lazare council defends security costs for upcoming Festival au Galop
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Mayor Robert Grimaudo defended the $24,700 cost for public security during the upcoming three-day Festival Saint-Lazare au Galop saying it is justifi ed because it will take place at four diff erent venues and is expected to bring in upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 people each day.
The first annual Festival St. Lazare au Galop ran into some controversy during the Monday evening council meeting on July 7 when former municipal councillor Michel Lambert questioned Mayor Robert Grimaudo and town council about the $24,700 price tag the town will spend for public security during the three-day event.
Lambert told Grimaudo that the money allocated for security measures during the festival which will run from August 7 to 9 seemed excessive considering the town’s annual public security expenditure was almost half. “There’s something not right here when the town is going to spend just under $25,000 for public security for a three day event especially when the town spends about $13,000 for its public security requirements the year,” said Lambert Both Grimaudo and the town’s Director General Serge Tremblay corrected Lambert on the amount, saying the town spends $33,000 a year for the public security patrols which take place primarily during summer weekends to ensure municipal by-laws are being respected and to curb rowdiness at night in parks and other public recreational areas.
Grimaudo added that the public security cost for the Festival au Galop is justified because it will take place at six different venues and is expected to bring in upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 people each day, especially during the RCMP Musical Ride afternoon performance which is scheduled for the last day of the event on August 9. “We’re not going to have just one or two security guards; we’re going to have a whole team,” said Grimaudo. He added that out of the three bids the town received for security services during the festival, the town accepted the lowest bid. Grimaudo said he was unimpressed with Lambert’s criticism, saying that the additional security is necessary to ensure the event runs smoothly and that Lambert was using the expenditure as some sort of political grandstanding gesture.
“Mr. Lambert is very much aware of how things work. Basically every statement he made today was for some sort of political gain. I don’t know what it is and I honestly don’t care but if he wants to make comments like that, that’s fi ne. I have no problem with it,” said Grimaudo. In addition to patrolling the six different venues during the three day festival, Grimaudo added the security staff will need to be briefed and coordinated ahead of time regarding their responsibilities and where they will be stationed throughout the event.
“It’s going to be a heck of a lot more than three days,” added Grimaudo. “As I mentioned, there’s going to be around 30 to 40 security guards. The musical ride alone is the main event that will attract between 5,000 to 10,000 people.” When Lambert stated that the town should have had an idea of how much the security detail would cost when it announced the festival in January, Tremblay interjected it wasn’t possible because the scope and size of the event wasn’t determined at the time. District 2 Councillor Pamela Tremblay added that the safety of all residents, especially children who will be mingling with horses, was the most important aspect used by the town to determine the security requirements for the festival.