Community grants awarded

More than half a million dollars in grants-in-aid go to various community groups

The city will distribute more than half a million dollars to community groups following council’s decision Monday night to give out 19 community grants.

Council approved $579,614 in grants-in-aid to various groups over the course of the next three years. That’s a 1.8 per cent increase over the amount given out in 2015.

Kevin Weighill, vice-chair of the Community Partnership Committee which is tasked by council with assessing requests for grants-in-aid, said this year the city received 25 grant applications, but not all could be accommodated.

“Requests for 2016 totaled $678,914 which exceeded council’s finance policy cap of 1.7 per cent of general revenue by $34,871,” said Weighill, who added that the committee spent two full days in meetings reviewing the applications and coming forward with recommendations based on council policy.

Organizations with multi-year contracts that operate out of city-owned buildings, such as the Museum, Art Gallery and Tidemark Theatre were given grants guaranteed through to 2018. In total, nine groups were beneficiaries of three year grants while the Campbell River Writers Festival-Words on the Water and the Campbell River Salmon Festival were each given two-year grants of $2,000 and $20,000 respectively.

Eight different organizations were awarded one-time grants for next year.

They include: the Genealogy Society ($6,000 for archiving equipment), Discovery Passage Sealife Society ($5,000 for a dome aquarium), Maritime Heritage Society ($3,000 for an archiving project), Campbellton Neighbourhood Association ($1,500 for public relations and communications), Volunteer Campbell River Non-Profit Fair ($1,000), Campbell River Shoreline Arts Society ($1,500 for carving maintenance), as well as $15,000 to go towards a reserve fund for unexpected grants.

Coun. Ron Kerr said the list of grant recipients is impressive.

“I can’t help but highlight that this really shows Campbell River’s commitment to arts and culture in the community,” Kerr said. “It’s a significant amount that’s going to some of our most important facilities. I just note that Campbell River really is an arts and culture-friendly community.”

But not all groups were so fortunate. In total, eight groups were denied funding. Those include: Campbell River North Island Transition Society ($10,000), Willow Point Lions club ($2,250 for a sign), Sexual Wellness and Education Society ($4,000), Campbell River Sea Cadets ($3,000 for operations and $3,000 for building improvements), Campbellton Neighbourhood Association ($20,000 for an airplane entrance feature and $10,000 for phase two of the community garden), as well as Discovery Passage Sealife Society ($6,500 for marketing).

Weighill said an application is denied if the group does not have 50 per cent of the required funding coming from another source, if an organization is already receiving funding from other levels of government, or if the group is not able to show it would not rely on the funding in future years. In other cases, the applicant was denied if it was a social service group that did not fall under the guidelines of the grant-in-aid mandate which dictate that the organization must be a non-profit, located in Campbell River, and open to as many residents as possible.

Coun. Larry Samson said he recognizes the difficulty in turning groups down but questioned whether it was possible to make an allowance for some of the groups, particularly the social service organizations.

Weighill said the committee did have that discussion but said it could set a precedent.

“Our concern of course is with limited funds we currently have, it would be a slippery slope to start providing funding to those folks,” Weighill said. “If anything could or should happen, I think it would be up to council to decide that they wanted to set aside some additional funds to cover those types of things.”

Council did, however, approve a maximum subsidy for facility rental grants of 50 per cent of the rent, up to $1,000, and made the decision to set aside $15,000 to fund events.