Score one for the snarlers

(Aquatarium executive director Bill Rogerson has navigated the rough waters of short-term financing.)

It seems the snarlers have a bit of sway left in them. They may have just saved city coffers from the perils of an interest-free loan.

Even better, they might have saved city hall from the dangers of collecting a minimal level of interest.

I refer to the decision by Aquatarium management to withdraw a request for a $100,000 operating loan from city council.

To their credit, officials at the recently-opened tourism facility have found another source of funding, one that is interest-free.

And here I'd been expecting a debate at city council's regular meeting last night – not about whether to give the Aquatarium the loan, but about whether to charge interest.

The decision to pull the request and find the money somewhere else follows a predictable upsurge in snarl, online and in calls to city councillors, when news of the loan request became public.

(One councillor told me he had to hold the phone away from his ear as an angry caller shouted a succession of Nos to the loan, convinced the money was going straight to Simon Fuller's pocket.)

So the Aquatarium pulls the loan request and finds another funding source, right on the heels of this backlash.

Coincidence? Could be...

It makes sense for the Aquatarium to make available to itself as many sources of funding as possible, at least until the base building's handover is complete and it has an asset to use for a bank loan.

Aquatarium backers are appealing to donors for charitable support, which was always part of the plan; one of the better-heeled donors might have just stepped in when it needed the loan.

But if we assume for a moment the snarlers got their revenge, of sorts, for not getting their free-admission day, and the Aquatarium actively sought another source of funding to put an end to this backlash, we get yet another lesson about the power of hyper-emotionality in local politics.

When the city gave the Aquatarium an additional $1 million in capital funding, there were cynical predictions the facility's management would soon be back, cap in hand.

Such people, apparently, make no distinction between an operating loan request – something city officials actually expected to see – and a capital grant ten times its size.

There is, in fact, a significant difference; but like many things in civic affairs it requires a pause for thought to make that distinction. Hard to do when the word "Aquatarium" and a dollar sign in the same sentence blinds you with rage.

To believe the snarlers, this extra $100,000 would have been snatched from the hands of our local food banks or mental health services to be given to the otter-keepers.

Assuming this was even true (some critics have difficulty with the concept of jurisdictions), those in need of food aid or mental health services just missed a chance to get 1.5 per cent more on that hundred grand, come October.

Instead, we have learned that, in a pinch, the Aquatarium can in fact find other sources of money. In other words, greater self-sufficiency.

So maybe the critics, in their logic-defying way, did achieve some good after all.