Each year, the City of Cranbrook gets to decide how to divvy up money between grant applicants that applied to the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affective Areas Program.
Of the funds, Cranbrook was allocated $262,389. There were 52 applications for funding this year with the total requested amount of $562,480.
Mayor Lee Pratt, Coun. Norma Blissett and Coun. Isaac Hockley attended the Columbia Basin Trust Community Input Meeting held on April 1 where the disbursement of funds was decided.
Mayor Pratt noted that the decisions came down to which groups would not have opportunities to get funding elsewhere.
“We’ve come up with the recommendation to approve, or if they have some discussion or questions on some of the grants and the awarding of them then we could discuss that,” Pratt said.
Coun. Danielle Cardozo asked why the Gran Fondo wasn’t awarded any of the $2,500 it asked for.
“I just find it very surprising — it’s been a very successful event, it’s been a huge economic driver bringing in individuals from all over,” Cardozo said.
Coun. Blissett noted the task of deciding who gets the funding, which was less than half the total of requested funds from organizations.
“We needed to cut a fair bit,” she said. “We went through the groups that definitely need our money and we found that Rotary as a fundraising organization itself — yes it’s a great cause, all of the people that asked for money are worthy causes and met the criteria — but it just came down to dollars and cents really and what we had. We felt that they had the capacity to raise money, where some of the other groups didn’t have the capacity.”
CAO Wayne Staudt noted that the city already supports the Gran Fondo event.
“They use the trail, which we maintain, and Rails 2 Trails from here to Kimberley, so if not directly there’s a lot of indirect in kind support that is given to the Gran Fondo through the city,” Staudt noted.
Coun. Ron Popoff thanked the mayor and councillors for their work.
“I can feel your pain,” he said.
“We decided as a committee that these are the ones that we would like to see supported,” Pratt said. “And further to Coun. Blissett’s comments, it was a tough decision — we had to say no to $300,000 of grant requests. And we know that in saying that, literally, some of these affected thousands of people. It wasn’t just a small group of five or 10 or 15 people.”
Pratt said the decisions weren’t made lightly and there were some very tough decisions made.
One of those was the decision not to grant School District 5 any of the $22,500 that it asked for for graduation ceremonies. That included the rental of Western Financial Place.
“Council felt if we said yes to that then we were going to be setting a precedent, then that would open it up for all kinds of groups and organizations that would be wanting the building for free,” Pratt said.
He noted that one thing that stuck out in that application was $17,000 for entertainment.
“We felt that those graduation ceremonies are getting out of hand and couldn’t support them,” he said.
Cardozo asked why the Triton Swim Club ended up being funded for $30,000 when the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association received nothing — noting the swim club has about 40 swimmers, while the soccer association has almost 400 players.
“I’m wondering what the justification is for funding 40 youth versus not funding the programming that affects 400 youth,” she said.
Coun. Hockley explained that this was seen as an opportunity to build the swim club and help them have meets.
“When they tore down the old pool, the Triton Club took a really big fold off of it. We looked at this grant and thought this would be a really great kickstart to them getting more members,” he said. “They had close to 200 when they were running strong. So we thought if we awarded this grant to them it would give them a kickstart to get back to those numbers.”
Pratt added that the club needs the funds to participate in swim meets, which the committee thought would have a beneficial economic impact for the city.
Pratt noted that the soccer grant for was for new uniforms.
“We’re not going to dole out $26,000 to put new jerseys on their backs,” he said.
Pratt also noted that the funds going to the swim club are for touch pads to be able to host meets.
Council’s recommendations will be forwarded to the Regional District of East Kootenay board for review at the May 29 meeting. Applicants will be contacted on the week of June 1 – 5.