City hopes to smooth out speed bumps in the beautification granting process

City council is trying to work out the kinks of a grant program, started earlier this year, that has had its complications.

The $10,000 grants are available to each of the city’s four business improvement groups to help beautify and clean-up the community.

Those groups include the Downtown Heart of the City Business Improvement Area Association (BIA), the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association, the Pier Street Association and the Willow Point Improvement Area Society.

But as evidenced by the request from the Pier Street Association at the Dec. 14 council meeting for its grant, it wasn’t clear to all the groups that council intended the money to be used for improvements completed by year’s end.

Mayor Andy Adams said the city will be speaking with the associations to make that clear for the 2016 round of funding.

“We will endeavour to correspond with the associations and ask them to try and have their projects going earlier in the year and if at all possible, for the projects to be completed prior to the end of the calendar year,” Adams said. “That’s just a direction we’ll undertake so that they’re not coming late in the year like this one.

“It is our first year, so I think we’ll give them a little bit of leeway.”

The request from Pier Street, via Phyllis Titus, a member of the BIA, asks for the $10,000 grant for “lighting of the three large murals in the Pier Street area, replacement of the flower barrels, and if there are left over funds – recycling cans throughout the area.”

Coun. Larry Samson, who said he was the councillor who brought the request forward, said it was partly his fault the request came in so late in the year.

He said he wasn’t originally aware that the city had to go through a partnering agreement in order to legally give the grants to the different associations.

“It was new to me. I didn’t realize we were going to have to go through this partnering agreement,” Samson said. “I thought the city had latitude for grants so I definitely take some of the blame on this lateness.”

The partnering agreement was the first speed bump for the city in awarding the grants.

Council learned in May that before any money could be distributed, the city (via council’s approval) and the association asking for the money, would have to both enter into a legal agreement.

City Clerk Peter Wipper said the city had sought legal advice and the only way to legally financially assist the groups in their beautification efforts is through a partnering agreement which allows the groups to carry out work on city property.

Samson said now that all parties have a clearer understanding of the process, next year’s allocation process should be a lot smoother.

“They’re all aware now,” Samson said. “I’m sure they’ll be right on it the first of the year.”