By Stephen Dafoe
Legal – Families who find their budgets a little short to cover recreational activities for their children may soon have some assistance from the Town of Legal. The idea of a recreational subsidy was put forward by the Town’s Community Services Board (CSB) and this week came before both Legal Town Council and the CSB for further tweaking. The proposal will return to council May 16 for final approval.
If approved, families who meet criteria would be eligible to receive $150 per child to a maximum of $350 per family per year. The program seeks to provide some funding for less fortunate families to help them enrol children 18 and under in Town recreation programs and outside sports and rec programs.
The program would be open to Legal residents whose combined net income does not exceed levels set by the program.
Proof of financial status would be required, although all applications would be kept strictly confidential, that information only accessible to those directly involved in the decision process. Monies would be paid directly to the program or sport the child was registering for.
Although applicants must be Legal residents, funding is not limited to Legal program offerings. Programs, including swimming, martial arts and other activities not available in Legal would be considered for funding.
As presented to Legal Town Council Monday night, the proposal had a stipulation that candidates for funding could not have received any other subsidy funding from other sources. When the matter came back before the CSB board Wednesday night, the stipulation was stricken on the grounds that eligible children who were actively trying to raise the needed funds for programs should not be penalized if they were successful in securing money needed for recreational programs elsewhere.
Additionally, the intention is to make forms available through Legal’s schools this September with the schools acting as liaisons to help get the ball rolling between eligible students and their families. The idea, suggested by Councillor lisa Magera would ensure that all families were aware of what was available to them.
The program would be seeded with a $1,000 allotment from the Town of Legal, plus whatever money can be raised through donations and fundraising. An additional $1,500 was raised through the community’s New Year’s Gala to put towards starting the program.
Similar programs are currently offered in Morinville, Gibbons and Sturgeon County, the latter offering some assistance for County-run summer programs to residents of municipalities within Sturgeon County.