CVRD committee awards yearly grants, addresses policies

Regional Grant-in-aid hopefuls left the CVRD boardroom Wednesday optimistic that their requests for 2014 were accepted.

Approved in principle by the regional district’s regional services committee, it seemed all that was needed was a rubber stamp from the board’s next meeting.

But, in a last minute attempt to approve one more applicant, Duncan Mayor Phil Kent had an idea: reduce the other six approved applications to make up for the amount of the seventh. The move allowed the money to reach more but at the same time keep the CVRD’s annual grants-in-aid contributions capped at $300,000.

Approved by the board were requests by: Cowichan Green Community ($30,000), the Cowichan Sportsplex ($149,430), Cowichan Valley Hospice ($50,000), Cowichan Valley Performing Arts Foundation ($2,500), Cowichan Valley Caregivers ($30,000), and a trio of arts groups splitting $25,000: Cowichan Valley Arts Council ($19,000), and its contemporaries in Ladysmith ($4,000) and Chemainus ($2,000).

The CVRD board will still likely approve each of those, but at about a three per cent reduction of the totals they left the room believing they’d receive.

It meant a $22,000 infusion to Cowichan Energy Alternatives, though no doubt that group’s total will be shaved down as well.

"What the board has been doing by voting the various components in or out is expressing a sense of the implied value of that particular activity," Shawnigan Lake Dir. Bruce Fraser said. "By including the Energy Alternatives Society in, we’re saying that’s on the inside because of the value that we attribute to that activity."

Last year, with the exception of a multiyear grant commitment to the Island Corridor Foundation, which has still not been paid, community members received about $381,500 in grants-in-aid.

Island Corridor Foundation grant discussions have been referred to a future CVRD meeting pending the outcome of an ICF meeting this week.

This year, requests totalled $694,640 but a subcommittee of the regional services committee was struck in an attempt to filter the applicants and to draft a strict regional grants-in-aid policy aimed at making the process easier – for both those applying and for the decision makers.

Cobble Hill Dir. Gerry Giles said the subcommittee was only struck in January and is working hard to get a new policy to present to its parent committees for ratification and eventual approval.

"The regional services committee will look at [the proposal] and will decide for the future how we are going to decide these applications," Giles explained. "We are working as fast we as can. We think we are on the road to formulating a very good policy but we’re not there yet."

More than half of the organizations that applied this year were denied.

"Probably the hardest part of this job is actually saying no once in a while," Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora Dir. Loren Duncan said.