Grants approved for groups in Wellington North exceed budget

KENILWORTH – Letters have been sent out to 32 community groups and public organizations that are receiving money through Wellington North’s grants and donations program.

On April 17, council approved $50,534 to come from the township’s Grants and Donations Community Development Program budget.

Though the amount exceeds the township’s $50,000 budget by $534, economic development officer Dale Small stated in a report to council that staff believe the overage can be managed within the current budget.

According to the report, there were 41 total applications received this year amounting to $79,820 in rental fee waivers and general donation requests. 

Small recommended against a $1,000 request from Holstein Expo Agro and Rodeo because the event and organization are located outside the township. 

Small also recommended the Arthur Optimist Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters receive less than their asks.

The Optimist Club’s $5,000 request to support Canada Day events was lowered to $2,500 in line with historic funding and to match the amount given to the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will receive $1,000, down from the $2,000 requested, in line with historic funding.

In total, $14,626 in fees are being waived and $35,907 in grants and donations are being given.

Council also voted to support six additional applications valued at $24,786, though it’s unknown where the additional funding will be sourced from.

Discussion on the first-time applications largely focused on requests to fund new playground equipment from Kenilworth Public School ($12,500) and Arthur Public School ($5,000).

The equipment at the Kenilworth school is over 20 years old, and play equipment at the Arthur school was removed last summer after it was deemed unsafe and in need of significant repairs.

Upper Grand District School Board communications manager Heather Loney stated in an email, “the school board dedicates its use of capital funds on learning spaces and looks to school fundraising to support playground equipment.”

 The remaining four requests are from:

– the Arthur and Area Historical Society, $2,500 for installation of a display at the Arthur and Area Community Centre;

– Big Brothers Big Sisters, $836 in waived fees for use of Mount Forest and District Sports Complex;

– Hospice Wellington, $1,950 in waived fees; and

– the Personal Empowerment Studio, $2,000 to fund programming for young girls.

Councillor Sherry Burke said she is supportive of the projects, but “not necessarily” the amounts being requested. 

“I do think it’s important that the students at both schools have an opportunity to play and be active during their break times,” Burke said.

She suggested a staff report back on alternative funding sources for playground equipment at Kenilworth Public School, and said she would have a hard time exceeding the township’s budget by nearly $25,000. 

“I’m going to sort of stand by the fact that I’d like to see a staff report on the schools and leave it at that,” she said.

Councillors Steve McCabe and Lisa Hern voiced support for all six requests.

“For that amount of money, this is probably one of the areas that we can get the most bang for our buck out of, is putting back into our community groups, so I think I could support that,” Hern said. 

Council voted 2-1, with Burke opposed, to approve funding for the six additional applications. Mayor Andy Lennox was not present at the meeting.

Small said letters would be sent out immediately to the 32 groups approved for funding mostly within the township’s budget, but the additional six would have to wait. 

Staff are looking into potential funding sources, and will bring a report to council.

The full list of organizations and groups supported includes: 

– Arthur Agricultural Society, $500;

– Arthur and Area Historical Society, $500;

– Arthur Chamber of Commerce, $2,500;

– Arthur Grace Anglican Church, $435 fee waiver;

– Arthur Horticultural Society, $600;

– Arthur Junior Horticultural Society, $200;

– Arthur Lions Club, $1,049 fee waiver;

– Arthur Optimist Club, $275 fee waiver;

– Arthur Optimist Club, $2,292 fee waiver;

– Arthur Optimist Club, $207 donation;

– Arthur Opti-Mrs. Club, $500;

– Arthur SU Sports Camp, $749 fee waiver;

– Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Wellington, $1,000;

– Friends of Bill Walker “Git Yer Hillbilly On” Ribfest, $435 fee waiver;

– Hayden’s Hope Foundation $1,908 fee waiver;

– Hope Committee, $1,500;

– Little Black Dress, $735 fee waiver;

– Lynes Blacksmith Shop, $1,000;

– Mount Forest Agricultural Society, $500;

– Mount Forest Chamber of Commerce, $2,500;

– Mount Forest Community Garden, $1,500;

– Mount Forest and District Arts Council, $350;

– Mount Forest Fireworks Festival, $2,500;

– Mount Forest Horticultural Society, $1,500;

– Mount Forest Lions Club, $500;

– Mount Forest Lions Club, $1,155 fee waiver;

– Mount Forest Louise Marshall Hospital Auxiliary, $500;

– Mount Forest Louise Marshall Hospital Foundation gala, $2,907 fee waiver;

– Mount Forest Museum and Archives, $500;

– Mount Forest Royal Canadian Legion, $130 fee waiver;

– North Wellington Health Care Recruitment, $15,000; 

– Saugeen Community Radio, $ 2,426 fee waiver;

– The Raw Carrot Gourmet Soup Enterprise, $500;

– Wellington Heights Secondary School Warm Winter Wishes Program, $650;

– Wellington Heights Secondary School scholarships, $900; and

– West Luther 4-H Club, $125 fee waiver.