Community Grant Policy sees some changes

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A year after Council initially requested revisions to the Town’s Community Grant Policy, a revised draft document came to Council Aug. 27 with some significant recommended changes. Council spent 40 minutes discussing the revisions before sending it back to Administration for tweaking. The document will come back to Council Sept. 10 for possible decision.

As presented to Council Aug. 27, the new document removes perpetual grants and Family and Community Support Services (FCCS) grants from the grant process and deals with them in other budget areas, and clarifies much of the confusion community groups encountered when applying for community grants.

More accountability, less confusion

The purpose of the Community Grant Program is to help local community groups, clubs and teams who provide a benefit to the Town and its residents by hosting significant community events or representing Morinville on the provincial, national or international stage through sporting and cultural events.

Under the former iteration of the program, Community Grants were given once each quarter to a maximum annual total of $27,500. The new revisions call for the grant intake to be three times each year – Jan. 31, May 31 and Sept. 30. Administration said the change in intake will provide Community Services staff more time to work with applicants and remove confusion on deadlines.

If passed, applicants would be able to apply under three categories: Arts and culture, recreation and sport development, and community development, the latter defined as “initiatives that support community events.” Fundraising and for-profit events will not qualify under the revisions to the program. Eligible groups may now apply multiple times; however, first time applicants may be given preference.

Council is looking for a little less confusion on what they are being asked to grant money to. All applicants would now be required to make an appearance in Council Chambers to answer questions on events and funding when the grants are to be discussed. Accountability will also play a factor in the new policy; successful groups are required to provide a final report to Council on the outcome of the project the grant was awarded to. Additionally, the Town is looking for a little PR for their money. Applicants must acknowledge the Town of Morinville in all promotional materials.

FCSS and Perpetual Grants to be out of mix

The FCSS Grant category has been removed in the draft policy because FCSS funding is a separate community budget that follows provincial guidelines. FCSS receives 80 per cent of its funding from the province, 20 per cent from the municipality. Administration has a meeting scheduled with the Government of Alberta for Sept. 5, at which time the guidelines, funding criteria and province’s mandate will be reviewed with Town Administration.

Council also is considering removing perpetual grants, monies given to community groups on an ongoing annual basis, because those funds are discussed as part of the annual budget cycle. Administration is planning to refine the perpetual grant application process to a greater detail in order to provide more reporting to Council and greater accountability.

Councillors David Pattison and Nicole Boutestein expressed some interest in penalizing those who do not report back to Council with details of their event, a requirement of the policy. Councillor Pattison went as far as advocating for a full repayment of the grant is community groups or individuals fail to comply with the reporting requirement.

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