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City caps community grants until 2027

Campbell River is capping the amount of money given for community grants for the rest of the city council term.

A committee of council agreed Tuesday to limit the amount of money available to community agencies to $720,000 until 2027.

Moving from the previous percentage of city revenue model chops about $144,000 from the budget. Projections show, based on a policy of 1.6 per cent of city revenue, there would have been a pot of $864,000 available next year.

While the amount of money was larger, a chart of recipients shows only 90 per cent of the money was being spent on average over the last three budget cycles.

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The grants are given to operations of some facilities like the Tidemark Theatre, ongoing events like the Salmon Festival and the Shoreline Arts Society and discretionary grants for things like Citizens on Patrol and Campbell River Volunteer Search and Rescue.

Coun. Ben Lanyon, who moved the motion for the cap, says the city needs to treat every applicant like a first-timer and do away with traditions.

“We have a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure they’re getting value for their money in a wide-reaching way. I don’t want to play favourites or politics. I think that each organization on this list needs to be imagined as though this is the first time they are asking and we need to do away with traditions that are not necessarily returning value,” Lanyon said.

He adds groups need to demonstrate a “true financial need” and “we don’t just fall into the want category of each of those organizations.”

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“It is going to be a hard year for some not-for-profits, just like it’s going to be a hard year for all taxpayers. I think that’s the reality we face,” Lanyon said.

Six other changes to the policy were approved including a requirement applicants show more than 75 per cent of their funding is coming from sources other than the city. It was previously more than 50 per cent. Council heard three unnamed groups will be affected next year by this change.

The committee also agreed to a review of the grants policy in the future. While supporting the cap, given the city’s financial state, Coun. Susan Sinnott asked for a staff report to “expand the limitations” on the current policy.

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