Community Grant Fund continues to decrease

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council approved funding through the Community Grant Program (CGP) to six applicants in the only grant intake of 2020, which totaled $19,180.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic related financial and operational impacts, the spring intake of the Community Grant 2020 was cancelled.

Six applications for the fall intake met the eligibility criteria and were recommended for funding by the Hinton Grant Funding Advisory Committee (HGFAC) during the regular meeting of council on Dec. 1.

“They all had really great proposals and projects that all would be very valued to our community,” said Jessica Hearsey from HGFAC during her presentation to council.

“We had only $19,000 so we didn’t have enough money to give full funding to all of them, which we would have liked to do.”

The Hinton Boxing Club was the only organization that received its full request of $1260 for an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The Hinton Friendship Centre received $5000 for its Circle of Learning Program, Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD) received $5000 for Community Violent Threat risk assessment training, Ecole Mountain View received $4000 for an outdoor classroom gazebo, the Hinton Adult Learning Society received $2000 for its Youth Teaching Adults Digital Skills program, and the Hinton Curling Club received $1920 for the U18 AB provincial curling championships.

Hearsey explained that the Circle of Learning Program would provide tutoring for indigenous parents to help their children in school, something that seems even more valuable now with online learning.

Coun. Dewly Nelson asked about a contingency plan for the Curling Club if they don’t move forward this year, and Hearsey noted that they didn’t discuss a contingency plan.

The Town of Hinton’s intern, Mir Faiaz, explained that once funding is approved by council, administration provides the organization with 80 per cent of the funding. The remaining 20 per cent is provided after the organization submits their final financial report detailing what they’ve done with the funding.

“We cannot make sure, according to our current process, whether they are actually using those funds for the exact program or project they applied to the community grant for, although we hold back 20 per cent of the funding,” said Faiaz.

If projects and programs are not reported on, the remaining 20 per cent stays in the grant program.

The grant is funded from the Automated Traffic Enforcement (ATE) Reserve.

The available contribution in 2020 is $19,180 based on 2019 ATE net revenue, which decreased since earlier years.

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.

Administration anticipated a larger amount during the 2020 budget process, but CAO Emily Olsen explained during a council meeting in July that due to an unanticipated amount of write offs required for unpaid ATE fines this number was reduced. Overall ATE revenue has decreased due to the reduction in operational ATE locations within the community.

In the fall of 2019, $29,727 was available for the second yearly CGP intake, while requests totaled $39,000. Only $26,000 was awarded to three local non-profit organizations.

In 2019, a total of $54,050 was available, down from $119,047 in 2018, and $243,181 in 2016.

From 1999 to now, the Town of Hinton has provided $1.58M in funding to local non-profit organizations through the Quality of Life and Community Grant programs.

Applications must meet certain eligibility requirements, including a price tag between $1,000 and $10,000, support of eligible expenditures, an approval of funding on a matching grant basis, and that any previous funds from the Town met reporting requirements.

These applications are then reviewed and ranked, using council-approved criteria, by the Hinton grant funding advisory committee. This committee makes recommendations to council in the awarding of Community Grant Program funding.

Applications require information regarding the organization, the project, finances, and so on.

An Applicants’ Guide is available online and the Hinton Connects team can answer questions about the application.

Each year, the CGP provides local groups with funding to maintain, improve, or initiate community projects, operations, and events.