By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Council had some tough decisions to make Apr. 9 with respect to handing out available Community Grant dollars. Community Services brought forward approximately $13,535 in grant requests from seven community groups, an amount that surpassed the $5,500 allotted each quarter by more than $7,000.
The Community Grant Program has been in place since 2010 with an annual budget of $27,500, which includes an additional $5,500 to be used to provide some flexibility in high application periods like the current intake of applications. The program was designed to recognize the benefits brought to the community by the groups and individuals providing services to Morinville by hosting community events or representing Morinville at provincial and national competitions.
Three of the seven first quarter applicants requested the maximum $2,500 grant: Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch for their 30th Anniversary Gala, Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club for their annual Tour de L’Alberta event, and Morinville Day Support-AHS for bus rentals.
Other applications requests included $1,675 for the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society for their recent Easter Egg Hunt, $1,000 for the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens to host cooking classes, $1,860 for the Jessica Martel Foundation for start up costs for a 5-kilometre run, and $1,500 to Morinville Public Elementary School Parent Fundraising Association to help fund a community carnival.
Not everyone funded
With a maximum of $5,500 per quarter and another floating $5,500 at their disposal, Council was still faced with more dollars requested than they had at their disposal to dispense. After discussing the requests, Council approved $4,938 of the $13,535 asked for, deferring a couple requests for subsequent Community Grant intakes and converting one request to a sponsorship.
Easter eggs a go
The Morinville Historical and Cultural Societies request for $1,438 (the remaining costs of the event) for their Easter Egg Hunt held Mar. 30 was approved. The historical group took over the event from the Agricultural Society after they folded last year. In their first year of running the event with Morinville’s Community Services department, the historical group drew approximately 500 children and their families to the arena for the Easter weekend activity.
Organizer Murray Knight said some limitations will be put on the event next year to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at the Easter eggs available.
Community Gardens in a pickle
Council also approved $1,000 for the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens to offer up to a half dozen cooking classes that will focus on working with local produce. The money would be used for the cultural centre’s kitchen and hiring local chefs to teach the classes. The group is planning to teach participants about canning, pickling and preserving.
Organization President Val Loseth said the cooking classes were a new initiative to add in the community garden’s third year. “It’s a lost art,” she said. “People don’t know how to pickle and can anymore.”
Loseth said she put the application in now ahead of canning season so as to be able to work some of the classes in connection with the Morinville Farmers’ Market.
Council approved $500 in kind and $500 in cash for the request.
Touring group peddles their event
Council approved the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club’s request for $2,500 to help put on the annual Tour de L’Alberta event in July with a 3-2 vote
Organizer Christine Chapman said the annual bike ride brought in approximately 1,300 riders to Morinville last year. Rides range from a 15-km family ride to a 175-km route for seasoned cyclists. There is also a 5-km component to the event for youth.
Chapman said they are working with the Morinville Festival Society this year to make it a more inclusive family event. The event will include the Morinville Farmers’ Market, an indoor and outdoor stage, and community groups showcasing their talents.
Budget for the event this year is $106,000, the majority of that is from the fees charged to riders. Chapman said about $11,000 comes from sponsorships from businesses.
Chapman said catering this year would be through the Green Bean and Kelley’s Deli and Bakery. Last year the tour used a caterer outside the community.
“We want to make it one big huge event that celebrates cycling and families,” Chapman said, adding Morinville is the largest sponsor of the event.
Councillor Lisa Holmes said she was happy to hear the event was working with the Morinville Festival Society and that she would like to see a long-term commitment with the group to ensure the event remained in the community.
She advocated cutting the amount of funding back due to the amount of in kind support the Town of Morinville gives to the event. Councillor Sheldon Fingler agreed. Mayor Krauskopf said he’d prefer to see it as a sponsorship but was supportive of the amount requested because of the economic benefits to the two local caterers alone.
Crime doesn’t pay
The Sturgeon Rural Crime Watch’s (SRCW) request for $2,500 to fund their 30th Anniversary Gala and Awards Night was declined because the group was not in attendance during the presentation.
The SRWC event is set to take place May 4 at the Rendez-Vous Centre. The group was not in attendance to answer questions due to Council taking place on the association’s meeting night. Council heard the association’s president would be coming to make a presentation to Council at a later date; however, ultimately had to decline the request because of the policy requiring attendance.
Memorial run deferred
A new sporting event seeking funding was the Jessica Martel Foundation’s Jessica Martel Memorial Run, the first of what the group hopes to be an annual event.
The event is set to take place June 23 during St. Jean Baptiste Festival 2013. The group sought $1,860 to cover start up costs, including t-shirts for participants and marketing materials. “T-shirts are a huge expense for us,” said Foundation member Laura Hennie, adding the group also wants to wave the fee for six RCMP officers whom they would like to include in the event. They are looking to bring in approximately $2,000 in donations for the group.
Councillor Lisa Holmes took some issue with the group asking the Town to cover 100 per cent of their expenses, as Town of Morinville policy indicates the maximum ask is half of the event costs.
Council decided to defer the funding request until the next grant intake so Community Services can work with the group to get a full understanding of what their actual expenses for the event would be and better help them meet the eligibility criteria.
A request for $2,500 from Morinville Day Support-AHS to cover eight community bus rentals was deferred. Family and Community Support Services do not fund transportation, a situation that prompted the group to apply through Community Services. Use of the bus allows the group of 10 to 15 seniors to go on outings that are tailored to their specific needs.
The funding would largely support outings for seniors with severe dementia, allowing them to make the trips needed to be active. An upcoming trip will be to Westlock for a Reach for the Top competition between seniors’ facilities.
Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein said the request would have to be turned down because the group requesting the support is not a non-profit group. Boutestein suggested moving the request to a sponsorship.
Community Carnival looks to connect
The Morinville Public Elementary School Parents Fundraising Association’s request for $1,500 to help fund a community carnival to “promote the public school as a vital part of the community” was reduced to $1,000 and turned over to a sponsorship rather than a community grant.
Last year’s event drew approximately 500 participants. The group is anticipating the same turnout and calibre of event when they run the event June 1.
“We’d really like to get our kids involved in the community as well,” said spokesperson Leah Elzinga, adding the school is trying to raise fund for new playground equipment but are looking to break even on the community event. Elzinga said the funds asked for were to bring in quality entertainment for the event.
Deputy Mayor Nicole Boutestein had an issue with the group not being a registered non-profit as the grant policy requires the groups applying to be non-profits. Elzinga said the group is a registered society that is non-profit but not a non-profit in terms of taxation. Boutestein said she felt the event was important but would rather see it as a sponsorship rather than a grant because groups are using Town funding to pay for fundraising events.
In total, Council approved $4,938 in grant funding Apr. 9 as well as granting $1,000 in sponsorship dollars. Deadline for the next intake for the Community Grant program is May 31.
With discussion and debate on grant funding taking in excess of 90 minutes, Mayor Paul Krauskopf said it demonstrated the need to review and improve the policy.