The City of Duncan has denied yet another application for a $10,000 grant from its COVID-19 grant program.
At a meeting last month, council turned down the grant request from This Rides 4 U, a new business in the Cowichan region that looks to help those who use wheelchairs and/or have other disabilities get to their destinations, without any discussion.
The grant program, which began in May, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, is intended to encourage creative thinking by local organizations to develop programs and concepts that will support Duncan businesses and residents affected by the pandemic, with a $10,000 cap for each application.
In its application for the grant, This Rides 4 U’s proposal said the business supports people in the Cowichan Valley and surrounding areas by providing a safe COVID-19 protocol to individuals who are disabled either physically, mentally, or cognitively, as well as for those who may be immunocompromised.
“These individuals are all requiring special transportation, and may also have anxiety or fears of going into the public or community during a COVID-19 setting for doctors appointments, specialist appointments, shopping and social engagements, as well as personal transport,” the application said.
Duncan CAO Peter de Verteuil told council that This Rides 4 U is not a non-profit organization, but a for-profit venture with a thorough business plan.
“While the wording of the COVID-19 grant criteria was intentionally broad, and was not restricted to non-profit enterprises, staff believe the intent was simply to allow for-profit enterprises to be eligible to apply for purposes of providing COVID-19-related support services to businesses and residents at no cost, or at subsidized rates,” he said.
“However, this is not specifically reflected in the criteria. This applicant supports businesses with a service that’s much needed, but it is a for-profit enterprise and doesn’t appear to offer reduced rates for anyone in the city, or other users, at all.”
The motion to deny the application passed, with Coun. Carol Newington opposed.
There is still $54,400 available in the city’s COVID-19 grant program, which is more than half of the $100,000 that was earmarked by council for the program last year.
So far, there have been 14 applications for funding, but just four have been approved by council to date.
The applications that were denied were largely considered by council to not fit the criteria of the program, or didn’t directly benefit the people or businesses in the city.