Groups make concerns, suggestions heard during open forum on gaming grants

Overwhelmingly, non-profit organizations want there to be a three year minimum for grants. Cheryl Shuman, president of the Dawson Creek Community Band and Majorettes, finds that the applications are confusing and change all the time. Even if someone has successfully filled out an application before, it may be completely different the next year. This year the band had their grant rejected due to lack of detail in their application. Normally 40 per cent of the band's budget comes from the government.

As well as their complaints, residents also brought their suggestions for how to improve the application process. Andy Ackerman, a grant writer for the North Peace Economic Development Commission, suggests following up when information is missing from an application, rather than just denying it. Arden Smith, department manager with the South Peace Community Resources Society, echoed that sentiment, adding that applications shouldn't be able to be submitted unless all attachments are included.

Skip Triplett has been appointed by Premier Christy Clark to review Community Gaming Grants in BC. The intent is to create a sustainable funding system for non-profit and charitable organizations. He says much of what Fort St. John and Dawson Creek residents had to say was in line with what he's been hearing on his 14 community review. In line with what he's heard, he is considering suggesting three-year rolling funding that would be renewed annually.

Triplett is confident that this review will have a positive outcome.

"The premier and the minister were raising some of the same concerns you were hearing this morning. They wouldn't be asking me to do this if they were going to ignore the whole thing."

The difficulty, he says, is creating "predictability in an uncertain world". His formal report, which will comprise of various options, as well as his recommendations, will be submitted to the B.C. Government by October 31, 2011. 

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