The City of Campbell River is hoping to lend a hand to Greenways Land Trust’s Fruit Tree Project by aquiring a $25,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) designed to make communities more “age friendly.”
“The UBCM Age-friendly Communities program assists communities across the province to support aging populations by developing and implementing policies and plans, undertaking projects that enable seniors and elders to age in place, and facilitating the creation of age-friendly communities,” according the staff report that was received by council Monday night, and Greenways has asked council to apply for the grant on their behalf.
Greenways launched its Fruit Tree Project as a pilot in 2019, and the uptake was outstanding, the organization says. And although it didn’t specifically target seniors, it was found that many of the volunteers were “younger seniors” and many of the fruit tree owners who asked for their fruit to be harvested were “older seniors,” so they think the project aligns with the goals of the grant program.
City council agreed and approved the application for the grant, which needed to be in by Jan. 17.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he seemed to remember the city getting a similar grant “a few years ago” and wondered how this one would be different.
City manager Deborah Sargent responded saying the city did receive a previous age-friendly grant to produce a plan to move towards making the community more age-friendly, but it was not endorsed or implemented by council at the time. This grant is different in that it is targeted for a specific project, and while the city would manage the funds should the application be successful, the project itself would be run by Greenways.
The only concern raised was whether or not managing grant applications – and the distribution of the funds when they are successful – on behalf of outside agencies takes up too much of city staff’s time.
Coun. Ron Kerr asked about the “stacking effect” of having numerous groups come to the city asking for it to apply for these types of grants, “and I think it’s appropriate that we continue to do that, but I understand the challenges for city staff … so I wonder if there’s a way to simplify this process in the future,” including the implementation of some type of standardized policy applicants should follow in order to be considered.
Sargent, however, says the city has “a fairly good process,” to handle these types of requests, and while there’s no specific policy in place guiding the decisions on whether or not to consider these types of requests, because each grant has totally different process and set of requirements, depending on the funding body and type of grant, so a structured policy at the city level wouldn’t really work.
“I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Greenways Land Trust for putting the pilot project on last year,” says Mayor Andy Adams. “As one of the property owners of one of the 36 trees (that were harvested in 2019), I can say it was really, really easy to sign up and it worked extremely well,” calling the program “a win/win for the community.”