A year after it elected to end its s long-running grant-in-aid program as a cost saving measure, Creston town council continues to struggle with how to handle requests from community groups.
At the April 9 regular council meeting, one request was rejected, another succeeded and a third also got money, after previously being turned down.
Until 2012, Creston council’s invited applications for funding from non-profit groups after setting aside funds in each year’s budget. Hit with huge policing costs last year, the grant-in-aid program was pulled, but some money was set aside in what was then called the “mayor’s discretionary fund”. Councillors took some comfort that a Columbia Basin Trust-funded pot of money directed through the Regional District of Central Kootenay was available to local groups.
On last week’s agenda, three requests were received.
“On behalf of the Creston-Kootenay Foundation, I am submitting this letter asking for your support as we plan for an evening reception to award CKF grants and recognize the grantees and their invaluable projects,” was the first request, signed by CKF director Nicole Nilsson. “Also we wish to hold this event to thank and acknowledge our CKF donors
“We sincerely thank you for your previous contributions, the Grand Soiree grants.”
“I’m uncomfortable with this,” Coun. Judy Gadicke said. “This group gives out grants, while some of the groups that come to us are actually doing projects.”
After a brief discussion, council voted to receive the information and to inform CKF that no money is forthcoming.
Later in the meeting, council faced another written request, this one from the Creston Judo Club, which is bringing in an Olympic bronze medalist to conduct a seminar. An earlier request for funding was met with a suggestion that the club apply for Columbia Basin Trust funds.
“This seminar event will not only be beneficial to our local and regional judokas but it will also act as an economical stimulus for the Town of Creston,” the letter said. “Those in the tourist, hotel/motel and food industry will serve to benefit from this three-day weekend as Creston hosts more than 100 participants and as many as 400 out-of-town guests.”
“Why is this on the agenda?” Coun. Wes Graham asked. “Is the mayor bringing it back?”
Council rules do not normally allow items to be reconsidered, except at the discretion of the mayor. However, executive assistant Bev Caldwell explained that the original request had not been acted up with a yes or no vote, but had only been received for information.
After defeating a motion by Graham to once again receive the request for information, a motion to provide $500 was put on the table.
“We support hockey teams that go to provincial tournaments and all of that money goes out of town,” Coun. Jerry Schmalz said. “This request is for an event that will bring people into our community and generate economic activity.”
The motion eventually passed by a 4-3 margin with Mayor Ron Toyota casting the deciding vote in favour.
“This comes down to assisting our local economy,” he said.
Under new business, another request for funds came forward. A Creston under-18 volleyball team has been formed and coach Bob Gollan put forward a request for funds to help defray the costs of attending two tournaments in Edmonton.
The players have been fundraising with hotdog and bake sales, and helping with a Rotary event, Gollan said.
Council voted to contribute $500.
While there has been criticism about the lack of a grant-in-aid program — it totaled $17,000 in 2011, then was cut in 2012 — organizations can apply for aid through other avenues.
A miscellaneous fund containing $5,000 is available for “one-off” requests, town finance director Steffan Klassen said on Monday. A mayor’s discretionary fund holds another $2,000.
Klassen pointed out that other organizations are supported within the budget: There is a $5,000 subsidy for users of Prince Charles Theatre, Dash for Trash gets $1,000, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area gets $10,900, Success by Six gets $9,000 and the Visitor Centre and Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce get a total of $54,000, of which $21,000 comes out of economic development funds.
Columbia Basin Trust provided $69,000 this year through the RDCK for the Town of Creston to disperse under the Community Initiatives Program and a further $25,000 is allotted from BC Hydro funds directed through the RDCK.