More grant money coming
Committee recommends increase in community group funding

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 03/99) - There will be three-times as much special grant funding available to community groups next year.

The committee, composed of all councillors, on Tuesday recommended $100,000 be made available in 2000 for community groups soliciting funding from the city.

If approved by council the move would more than triple the amount given out this year.

Defending the increase, Coun. Cheryl Best said the organizations receiving the funding will bring business to the city.

"Without providing some funds for these volunteer organizations to work with, we're stifling economic growth," said Best.

"I believe we have the ways and means of rolling back the tax increase. But I don't think we should do it on the backs of these organizations."

City grants are split into two groups. 'Core' grants are given each year, almost automatically, to a select group of organizations including Caribou Carnival, Yellowknife Special Olympics, Folk on the Rocks and the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. Council approved a total of $185,500 in core grants, the same amount it gave last year.

The remaining groups must vie each year for 'special' grants. For 1999, special grants funding was chopped to $32,000 from $393,700 in 1998.

Following up on a suggestion last year by Coun. Kevin O'Reilly, core-funded groups will be required to enter into contribution agreements outlining what they will provide in return for funding.

"I don't have any problem saying the best way to spend this money is to put it into these organizations' pockets," said Coun. Ben McDonald, defending the increase.

"A hundred thousand dollars does not nearly compensate these groups for the work they do for this community."

Council's two newest councillors did have a problem with the increase, voting against it.

"If it's a worthwhile cause and the organization takes the initiative to fund-raise, they're generally well-received by the community," said Coun. Alan Woytuik.

"My suggestion to these groups is buy a Harley," he added.

Woytuik was referring to a highly successful Elk's Lodge fund-raiser. The lodge raffled off a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

Coun. Dave McCann, who along with Woytuik cast the lone votes against increasing special grants funding, said the city needs to develop a criteria that should be used to evaluate requests for core funding and special funding.

"The intent would be to assess what requests would provide the best value to the city," explained McCann.

Council agreed with the idea and instructed administration to prepare the rules for evaluating requests.

In the past, requests have been dealt with at budget time, with others trickling in through the year.

Council last year decided to evaluate requests for special grants only twice during the year. Deadline for submitting applications for special grants funding are Jan. 10 and Sept. 30.