City of Fort St. John makes recommendations on allocation of 2017 grant money

Photo by Montana Cumming

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John has made recommendations for allocated funds for 2017 grants.

Clubs and Associations presented to council recently to show the need for grant money in order to put on events and keep clubs going.

The total amount of grant money that has been requested for 2017 is $592,180.00, while the amount that is currently in the budget draft is only $527,717.00. The total of the grant allocations recommended by staff is $510,692.00.

Last year, Council received 8 grant applications which totalled $737,310.00. They approved grants for  $473,926.00.

Presentations were made in September of this year.

The Community Arts Council of Fort St. John is requesting that $20,000.00 be allocated to its group members. This is the same amount they requested last year, but a grant of $15,000.00 was approved. Staff is recommending that $15,000.00 be allocated again in 2017.

The Fort St. John Women’s Resource Society had requested $9,180.o0 for a 2017 grant. City staff is recommending that a grant of $7,475.00 be given to the Society. This amount is what was set aside in the 2017 budget.

The North Peace Historical Society had requested a grant of $10,000.00 for 2017. This is the same amount that they had requested for 2016. City staff is recommending that the amount requested be awarded.

The Tourism Board of Fort St. John is requesting $36,000.00 for 2017. The amount is a reduction from the $71,000.00 that they asked the City for in 2016. They did receive $36,000.00 last year and City staff have recommended that the Board receive the same amount in 2017.

The North Peace Fall Fair Society requested $5000.00 and this amount has been recommended by City staff to be awarded.

The North Peace Justice Society had requested a grant of $18,000.00 for 2017. City staff is recommending that $17,217.00 be approved for the grant application.

The Fort St. John Airshow has requested a grant of $40,000.00. Since the Airshow only goes on every 2 years, they did not apply for a grant in 2016. In 2015, they applied for $20,000.00 and were given the amount that they requested. They are looking for a grant increase because of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the Alaska Highway and Canada’s 150th Birthday. The budget for the Airshow will be between $280,000.00 and $330,000.00.

Perhaps the most debated grant proposal is from the Fort St. John Public Library. The Library is asking for $404,000.00, which would be an increase of $4,000.00 from the previous years request. The reasoning behind the asking for the increase is to staff the Library for the current level of customers that they are seeing. They were awarded $380,000.00 last year. The City has recommended that a grant of $380,000.00 be awarded again this year.

Some Councillors disagreed with the decision, saying that the Library should get more funding. Councillor Gord Klassen said that he believes $380,000.00 is too low for the Library and suggested giving them $400,000.00 during a Committee of the Whole Meeting.

The issue other Councillors had was that they couldn’t find the extra money to grant the Library an increase. Council ultimately decided against giving the Library an increase during the meeting.

At the regular Council meeting that followed after the Committee of the Whole, Klassen asked to revisit the Library funding again.

“I really felt that the Public Library that submitted a request for $404,000.00 opposed to $380,000.00 that City staff had recommended. I would like to go back and revisit that and what I would like to suggest is that we take, we have increased the Air Show’s budget by $20,000.00 this year of which they anticipate they will be able to pay us back, the $20,000.00 from revenue. So what I would like to suggest is that we take that $20,000.00 from the Air Show that we were going to give to them and give that to the Public Library.”

Klassen said the Air Show is a great event every year but he believes the Library is an essential service to the Fort St. John community. He also pointed out the fact that people without work are coming to the community and using the Library resources that are available to them.

Klassen then made an official recommendation that the Library be given a grant of $400,000.00. They will be keeping the same amount numbers wise, just allocating money from the Air Show budget to the Library budget.

There is an extra $17,000.00 in the budget for 2017. Councillor Klassen suggested giving the extra $17,000.00 to the Library which would be close to the $20,000.00 they were going to take from the Air Show budget. City staff preferred to defer the situation so they can come back to Council and verify how much money is available. Council then voted to defer the situation and give the City a chance to come back with more information.