Thirteen applications for the community grant program (CGP) requested a total of $82,017 this year, but only $27,025 was available during the first of two annual intakes.
All of the CGP funds come out of the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) program, and this year a total of $54,050 is available.
That number is down from $119,047 in 2018, and $243,181 in 2016; the largest allocation to CGP.
“I would like to express my concern for the sudden and extreme downward revision of the amount of money available this time for the community grant fund,” said Kathy Rees, lead of Hinton’s Grant Funding Advisory Committee (HGFAC) during their presentation at the regular council meeting on May 7.
Rees felt it is unfortunate that the smallest sum of money in many years is made available to the CGP, during one of the largest total requests; reflecting the struggle non profits are experiencing as they attempt to fund their programs.
The reason behind the reduction in available funding is due to net revenues from the 2018 ATE program coming in significantly lower than budgeted, according to Todd Martens, fire chief and protective services manager, who added that ATE reduced their active zones and council previously cancelled the stop sign program.
Up to 30 per cent or a maximum of $120,000 can be allocated annually to the CGP from the ATE reserve as per Town policy #078.
HGFAC members individually, and then collectively, evaluated each of the applications according to predetermined council-approved eligibility requirements, criteria, and weighting guidelines.
HGFAC recommended awarding the full amount requested by the Hinton Firefighters Association of $2,702 to buy rescue dummies; a training tool to assist in learning rescue operations.
Before approving the recommendations, council
requested the $2,702 for the Hinton Firefighters Association be removed and the funds be made available for the October 2019 community grant funding intake.
“I realize that the Hinton firefighters Association is not the Hinton Fire Department, it’s the social services aspect,” stated Coun. Albert Ostashek. “So to me, applying to get funding to purchase training equipment for the fire department to use, makes me question if that’s really appropriate in the spirit of the community grant fund, even if technically they can apply for it.”
CAO Martin Taylor assured council that funds for this equipment would be found in budget as it is a legal requirement for the fire department to obtain these dummies.
Taking this item out allows funds to go to other non profits in the community this fall, stated Coun. Ostashek.
Four organizations were denied funding, including Cows & Fish for the 2019 Envirothon, Edson & District Recycle Society for their summer environment celebration, Wild Mountain Music Festival, and the Rotary Movie Presentation Society for their movie program.
“Envirothon will happen with or without funding from the Town of Hinton community grant. We purposely planned a condensed event this year knowing we had many new board members and hadn’t secured a lot of funding. In the past, our event has ranged between two to four days depending on the venue, sponsors, support and team registrations,” said Chantelle Bambrick, board member of Cows & Fish.
Hinton Adult Learning Society was awarded $7,000 of the $10,000 requested to support the Freddy’s Homelessness Resource Room through the HELP Homeless Initiative.
“We are absolutely dependant on this money. Freddy’s homeless resource room is not funded by any entity, and we fundraise and seek donations annually to continue operating,” stated Candace Pambrun, homelessness coordinator at HELP in an email to the Voice.
Hinton’s Run In The Rockies requested $5,350 and received $2,500, The Share Shop requested $10,000 and received $5,000 for the upgrade of the shop, Athabasca River Voyageur Canoe Brigade Society requested $1,500 and received $1,000, Bridges requested $10,000 and received $5,823 for their recreation exploration program, Hinton Mountain Bike Association requested $10,000 and received $1,000 for the Big Horn trail project, Hinton and District SPCA requested $2,051 and received $1,000 for the cat microchip program, and the Hinton Boxing Club requested $2,465 and received $1,000 for equipment.
Rees stated that when non profit organizations were asked if their projects were dependant on this particular funding, one group said yes, and without the grant money they could not offer their particular service.
“Several said no, since they have secured some other money as their matching funds, but it would mean there would be cuts made to the work and it would be difficult to complete as planned. As well as needing to put yet more resources into looking elsewhere to make up for the shortfall,” added Rees.
Council also questioned funding the share shop upgrade as it is a town owned building, but Carla Fox stated, “I have been informed by the Director of Infrastructure Services that this was a discussion that they had. It is a request of the Share Shop to do renovations to the older side of the building. It is within their agreement that they do the renovations within that building and it is not money that the town is putting into it.”
Recommendations made by HGFAC members are based on a 100-point rating system set out by council.
“I think the most important thing council can do if we don’t agree with what we’re seeing in terms of the matrix results and we think it’s way off base. Then what we have to do is get our hands dirty and dig into the matrix, and dig into the policy itself. And then at that point turn it over to the people who are volunteering their time to get us those recommendations”, said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.
The CGP funds one time projects, operating expenses during developmental stages and events for the general public that attract visitors, contributes to the local economy and promotes volunteerism.
According to administration, the Community Grant Program continues to be a very popular program, and since 1999, the Town of Hinton has provided over $1.58 million in funding to various non- profit groups under the Quality of Life/Community Grant Program.