Centre Wellington council awards community impact grants

ELORA – Centre Wellington council has approved over $18,000 in community impact grants for six local organizations.

Dorothy Smith, manager of community development, festivals, culture and tourism, came to council with a request for direction on behalf of the Community Services Advisory Committee (CSAC) at the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 16.

First, CSAC asked council to approve six community impact grant (CIG) allocations, which it did:

  • Community Resource Centre, $3,000;
  • Elora Environment Centre, $3,580;
  • Grand Celtic Pipe Band, $5,000 ;
  • Metz Pumpkinfest, $500;
  • Children’s Foundation, $5,000; and
  • Wellington Pregnancy Centre, $1,000.

However, Smith told councillors CSAC was reviewing CIG applications and didn’t know how to move forward with two of the requests.

One of the criteria for the CIG is that applicants have not received any other funding “and both groups got OLG funding, which is against the rules,” Smith said.

Both the Elora Centre for the Arts and the Fergus Scottish Festival had requested $5,000 in CIG grants, but in January council allocated funding for both groups – $17,000 to the arts centre and $28,000 to the festival – from the township’s OLG fund.

Councillor Neil Dunsmore sits on CSAC and said giving CIG grants to either group would require council to change the criteria for the community impact grant, a change he did not favour.

Councillor Bob Foster thought council should consider allowing an exception to the rule this year and award $5,000 to the Scottish Festival.

Foster said the project the festival is proposing would improve the grounds at the Fergus sportplex and have a direct benefit to the community. And because the work was to be done by volunteer labour, it would allow the $5,000 to go further.

“In my view we should make an exception this year,” he said.

Council decided not to take that stance, however, and stuck to the criteria.

Smith also told council there is $31,000 remaining and recommended splitting it between any future neighbourhood wellness initiatives and the Centre Wellington Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

Earlier in the year, councillor Stephen Kitras had proposed starting a neighbourhood initiative that would focus on building wellness and community. Council, while supportive, asked him to come back with a clearer proposal. Kitras is expected to present his proposal in March or April.

On Feb. 16, Dunsmore suggested some of the surplus could be earmarked for Kitras’s project and once again, council was supportive.

“I like setting aside money for the neighbourhood response,” said councillor Ian MacRae. “Once we’re out of COVID, we can come together as a community.”

“Here is some unused money,” Dunsmore said to Kitras. “We could bring it back.”

“I appreciate consideration for my future notice,” Kitras replied, adding council will have to approve the proposal before granting any funding.

In the end, council decided to put the surplus into the COVID-19 community response reserve and transfer funds to Kitras’s project should it be approved.