Arts Council receives good news on disaster assistance

Province upholds appeal against decision denying flood repair funding for Red Barn.

Being a squeaky wheel may soon pay off for Carla Krens and the Eagle Valley Arts Council, who have been trying to secure disaster financial assistance for flood damaged caused to the Red Barn Art Centre.

Last week, Krens and the arts council received a lengthy letter from Rebecca Denlinger, the province’s fire and emergency management commissioner and Provincial Emergency Program director, explaining why they are now considered eligible to receive disaster financial assistance.

Denlinger’s letter is in response to an appeal by the arts council, which had applied for, and was subsequently denied, financial aid through Emergency Management BC’s Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) program. The funding was sought to help with the cost of repairing damage caused by this summer’s flooding.

According to an Aug. 17 letter from Emergency Management BC, the arts council was denied funding on the grounds that it doesn’t qualify as a “charitable,” volunteer organization.

“My dispute is with the fact that since we have income of any kind through the rental of the Red Barn, we’re disqualified,” Krens, the arts council’s treasurer, explained to the News. “I don’t see why income equates to non-charitable, because the Red Cross is definitely a charitable organization and they raise funds. And we raise funds through rental, so I don’t see the reason for us being disqualified.”

Krens raised the point that the regulation upon which Emergency Management BC based their decision fails to define charitable, and that its wording is ambiguous.

Denlinger concurs in her letter that a definition of ‘charitable’ is not given, and that “it is therefore hard to interpret what organization qualifies or not.” She goes on to explain that most DFA applicants that do qualify as charitable, are registered as charitable organizations under the Income Tax Act. Because the arts council is not a registered charity, Denlinger then referred to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) policy and guidelines to determine if the arts council qualifies. Ultimately, she decided in favour of the arts council’s appeal.

“Based on the CRA criteria for charitable organizations and the information you provide about the Eagle Valley Arts Council, I am satisfied that your organization is a charitable organization and am therefore overturning the original determination and direct that you be considered to be eligible to receive disaster financial assistance,” writes Denlinger.

Along with submitting the appeal, Krens was able to secure letters of support from both the District of Sicamous and Shuswap MLA George Abbott, whose letter went directly to BC Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond.

“I know the Eagle Valley Arts Council of Sicamous very well as it has been in operation for 32 years. I can attest to it being a “charitable” and “not-for- profit” organization,” writes Abbott. “Their members work very hard to keep their programs going, programs that benefit the old, the young and the broader community. It is an excellent organization that greatly enriches the community.”

Krens is grateful to both the district and Abbott. Though she is a little disappointed things have had to go as far as they have as a result of what she feels was a hasty decision on the part of Emergency Management BC.

“They come to this conclusion now, why wouldn’t have they come to that conclusion then if they had looked at it in more depth?” says Krens.

There is still, however, some paperwork required for the arts council. Denlinger asks that they provide a letter from their insurance company confirming that flood insurance was not available for the Red Barn. Krens says she has confirmation that the lowest available flood deductible is $10,000, and that the arts council’s policy will not cover that.

“But I have to go back and see if that’s acceptable or not, but I’m pretty sure it will be,” says Krens.


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