Council approved sending Mayor Lee Pratt, and Councillors Norma Blissett and Isaac Hockley to the committee that will review project proposals for the Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Program grant application selection process.
The program provides funding support for projects which have been identified as priorities within individual communities, and is open to all Basin residents and organizations.
At the Monday meeting, council also agreed to look at the process itself after this year’s selection is complete — April 1, 2015 is the review and April 27 it the date council will consider the committee’s recommendations.
Coun. Danielle Cardozo had concerns with the process.
“I’m having a really hard time supporting this recommendation, not because I’m opposed to three individuals choosing, but I’m opposed to the process that’s used to determine where these funds go,” Cardozo said.
She said that while there is a community involvement meeting, there isn’t much community consultation.
“So we’re giving three individuals the right to determine, based on one meeting, and these reports, what the community needs to use this $262,000 for,” she said. “I would prefer to see a process looked at that’s an alternative to this one.”
Cardozo noted she’d spoken with representatives from the CBT who told her they would be happy to present alternative processes.
“I think the communities of Fernie and Salmo have great processes that really involves community members that really allows communities to give more input than just that one short meeting as to how these funds should be spent,” she said.
CAO Wayne Staudt said the process is the one the city worked on with the Regional District of East Kootenay on.
“Whether or not a community like Cranbrook wants to follow whatever process, I guess we’d have to involve the regional district somehow, because they’re the ones that really run this process,” Staudt said.
He explained that councils in the past have always appointed three councillors to sit and listen to all the applications made.
Once the three councillors have heard all the applications and come to decision, that recommendation comes back to council for endorsement.
Acting mayor Wesly Graham asked whether council favoured having CBT representatives come in and talk about alternative process possibilities.
Coun. Norma Blissett suggested staying with the process for this year and then if council decides it wants to review it after that then put it in the works.
“So that in the following year we can adopt that if it is necessary,” Blissett said.
Coun. Ron Popoff agreed with having discussions on future ways of moving forward, but said it may not be the right time as there are deadlines coming up.
“Let’s give this a whole year to rethink this and maybe we’ll come forward with some better proposals for next year,” Popoff said.
Council will discuss alternate processes later in the year.