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A change in direction

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (May 16/05) - Regional economic development funding is going under the control of the territorial government.

The move follows a resolution from Kivalliq mayors at their annual regional meeting. Economic Development and Transportation (ED&T) has decided to dissolve its partnership with Kivalliq Partners in Development (KPID) for the delivery of Community Initiatives (CIP) and Contributions to Business Development (CBDP) programs.

CIP has a $700,000 budget for the current fiscal year, with each Kivalliq community having access to $100,000 until Sept. 15.

After that date, unused monies are rolled into a Nunavut-wide fund.

The CBDP has a $225,000 budget for the fiscal year, available to medium- and small-sized businesses.

Rankin Inlet Mayor Lorne Kusugak said the mayors wanted CIP funding reviewed, with the intent of having it dealt with by EC&T instead of an appointed body.

Kusugak said there were many too many inconsistencies in the distribution of CIP funds during the past few years.

"KPID was trying to find ways for proposals not to work, instead of the other way around," said Kusugak.

"Ideally, you would think those in charge of funding would look at a good proposal and try to find ways to help make it fit program criteria.

"My concern is that money allocated for Rankin is used in the community and based strictly on the merit of our proposals.

"KPID may do good work in other areas, but the process for CIP funding just wasn't working."

Robert Connelly, ED&T acting director of community operations and manager of community economic development, said the resolution wasn't the sole reason the partnership was dissolved.

Connelly said the department is reviewing its funding programs to ensure they meet the needs of communities and the private sector.

He said the review has shown the programs to be badly outdated, prompting ED&T to take over delivery.

"It was evident by the mayors' resolution that the delivery system under KPID was not meeting their needs," said Connelly.

"This solution was a response to that and, as our program review is completed over the next several months, we will determine the best system of program delivery and how it can be implemented in all three regions."

Connelly said the objective is to provide assistance and support to clients, within program guidelines.

He said whether that means direct funding assistance or co-ordination support, the expanded resources ED&T has access to will help find an equitable solution to a client's funding needs.

"Because of our ability for interdepartmental collaboration, we will be able to provide clients with information and assistance within the GN which, perhaps, KPID may not have had.

"Our primary objective is to ensure as little disruption to client services in the communities as possible.

"The application process to access funding will be the same as in years past."

KPID executive director Ron Dewar views the change in direction as a logical conclusion.

However, he would have liked to have seen the process start six months ago, not six weeks ago.

Dewar said KPID did not receive a commission or a percentage of funds it delivered through the two programs.

He said all the GN's decision means to KPID is the loss of one job.

"We received a flat fee that, basically, covered one person a year," said Dewar.

"That position will no longer be required, but we hope to assign that employee to another program we manage.

"As long as the government continues to deliver the programs, this shouldn't be viewed as a loss to anyone."

A point of contention

Dewar does hold a point of contention with the claim that KPID didn't do everything in its power to meet client needs.

He said KPID exceeded the CIP budget by $369,000 this past year, and the rest of its programs were delivered at 100 per cent.

"I believe in economic development and approved anything I could.

"An ED&T senior representative was at our review committee meetings and had the final call on any proposal outside the guidelines.

"If that person said a proposal didn't fit the program criteria, we, more or less, had to respect that interpretation.

"The program changes underway are timely and will prove themselves beneficial to the region."