By Ezra Black
Seventeen community groups are receiving discretionary grants from the City of Fernie this year, but the $16,000 they’re getting is a far cry from the close to $100,000 they asked for.
The Discretionary Grants Committee proposed the allocations for the 2017 budget year.
Any community group or organization that can demonstrate financial need can apply for a discretionary grant. Council’s current five-year plan includes an annual sum of $18,000 to fund grant requests. This year, community groups asked for a total of $95,154.
On Dec. 12, council allocated $16,000. The remaining $2,000 of the fund will be parceled out to groups of the Discretionary Grants Committee’s choosing in sums of up to $250.
Council awarded the funds to three categories of organizations: Core Operating Grants were given to groups that have paid staff and use municipal facilities, Economic Development and Tourism Grants went to organizations hosting cultural or sporting events that promote economic development and the final group of grants went to support locals competing in amateur competitions.
According to a municipal release, the Fernie Public Library received the largest sum. It was awarded $1,850 to help fund the Bibbity Bobbity Boo Children’s Festival.
In a four-way tie for second place, Special Olympics B.C. – Elk Valley, the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL), Out of the Box Public Art Committee and the newly formed Fernie Pride Society each received $1,000, said the release.
Special Olympics B.C. – Elk Valley will use the money to subsidize the cost to their athletes by paying for swimming lanes, gym rental and transportation to venues.
CBAL will use its grant to fund the Love 2 Learn parent/child program.
The Out of the Box Public Art Committee will use the funds to transform 10 dumpsters into metal canvasses using paints and anti-graffiti coating.
The Fernie Pride Society will use the money to provide information and resources for individuals and families struggling with gender and sexual identity issues.
Some groups asked for large sums only to be granted a small percentage of what they wanted.
The Fernie Legion asked for $25,000 but received a mere $250: one per cent of their request.
The Legion requested the grant money for a number of initiatives including renovations, entertainment and sponsoring a baseball team, said the release.
The Fernie Snowmobile Association asked for $15,000 to maintain trails and upgrade infrastructure but also received only $250.
The only groups to walk away empty handed were the Fernie Trails Alliance and the West Kootenay Brain Injury Association, which both asked for $5,000 and received nothing.