At its Nov. 19 Open Finance Standing Committee meeting, Town Council ruled unanimously to rescind its Grant in Aid policy, while keeping the bursary part of the program in tact.
The Grant in Aid program had an annual budget of approximately $25,000, but it went as high as $50,000 on one or two occasions. Under the former program’s policy, non-profits were able to apply for funds in order to further their organizations.
The annual bursary to a graduating high school student who intends to pursue post-secondary education in the field of political science will continue to be funded by the Town.
The Grant in Aid program was rescinded because council believes it isn’t the most efficient use of funds to benefit the social sector.
“We give little bits and pieces of money to these organizations when they come to us, it may or may not be effective, it does have an impact on them but it can be administratively onerous and it is difficult for Council to make decisions around that,” said Mayor Christina Benty.
Several options were discussed by Council on what to do with the funds that were previously allocated for the Grant in Aid program.
The first was a proposal from Mayor Christina Benty, who suggested that council explore the idea of giving the funds to a third party (the Golden Community Resources Society was specifically named) for them to use in order to hire a full-time staff member who would work to support the social sector.
“[I suggest] we identify the impact that one person, providing some support to the social sector, can bring into the community. They are able to access funds and leverage funds but they are able to so because that’s their job,” Mayor Benty said.
Kicking Horse Culture was mentioned as a good example of the benefit of full-time staff members with regards to leveraging funds through various grants.
“One thing about Kicking Horse Culture, what they have managed to do, is because they have dedicated staff, they are able to leverage funds to the tune of half a million dollars that actually benefits our community. That’s kind of the principal that I’m looking for,” said Mayor Benty.
Coun. Hern discussed the idea of taking the Grant in Aid money out of the social sector and using those funds for improvements to roads, water and sewers. He was concerned about the public perception of Mayor Benty’s idea.
“This could certainly be perceived as just another way of getting another staff member, only you are shuffling the money around,” he said.
Mayor Benty disagreed, saying that the staff member would have very little to do with the contract, other than the staff member reporting back to them. Coun. Moss also disagreed with Coun. Hern’s assessment.
“What you are doing is investing in the social sector, you’re not just getting another staff member,” Coun. Moss said.
After some further discussion, Coun. Hern moved to have the Grant in Aid program rescinded, while keeping the bursary for graduation students, a motion that was seconded by Coun. Moss and carried unanimously. Council will decide at a later date what to do with the Grant in Aid funds.