by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Council has made significant changes to how taxpayer dollars are distributed to community groups through a new Community Grant Policy. The motion passed 5-1, with only Councillor Nicole Boutestein voting against and Councillor Rob Ladouceur absent from the meeting. The primary change to this policy was transitioned to administrative control from council control, meaning administration will now be responsible for approving and dispensing all community group grants, providing reports to Council on their approvals in the regular CAO Reports.
The majority of Council was generally supportive, with Councillor Dafoe commenting that since the allocation for community grants was reduced to only $10,000 in the 2017 budget, it seems acceptable to him that it would just be handled by Administration. Councillor Barry Turner echoed these comments, adding that “this is a great efficiency” for Council and the Town in general.
Councillor Gord Putnam thanked Administration for their work on the bylaw and offered up a list of “wording and grammatical changes” to improve the document, a common occurrence for Putnam, who also works as a lawyer in Morinville. He was generally supportive of the change and offered up no changes beyond his list of minor tweaks.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein was not comfortable with the change to administrative control, however, saying, “I’m just not comfortable handing this over completely to [administration].” She went on to explain that she is “extremely supportive of [community grant] spending,” and has been for a long while, and feels that it’s important to evaluate each request item by item.
The change means applicants applying for the grants will do so under the new process, with no opportunity to appeal to Council. Before this process change, Administration decided on grants and presented Council with their decisions on an item by item basis, potentially offering their feedback on individual items. Administration commented that this process change is just matching practice to policy changes that Council has already put in place.