Monday, December 5, 2016

City makes progress on proposed Funding Agreements with community groups

Prince Rupert City Council is getting closer to changing the way that it approaches some of the funding for Community Group organizations in the city, providing a notice to the public of its plans to enter into a new form of funding agreement with two of the larger groups that annually receiving operating money from the City.

The notice tucked away in the back pages of Friday's flyer delivery in the Northern Connector, outlines some basic information for what will be a three year term for community funding for both the Prince Rupert Performing Arts Centre and the Northern British Columbia Museum Society.

In the case of the Arts Centre funding, if approved, the agreement will provide for the sum of 125,000 dollars per year for each year of the three year term.

For the Museum Society, the new agreement, once again if approved, will deliver 126,000 dollars per year for the Museum of Northern BC and additional 15,000 dollars per year for the Kwinitsa Station Museum, that funding will also be for each year of the three year term of the Agreement.

The new arrangement is to make for an alternative from the current process of yearly applications when it comes to the annual Community Enhancement Grants.

The larger list of would-be applicants both large and small, is something which the City is still considering as we head towards the end of December. A review of how the city distributed Community Grant money for 2015 was released in June of this year.

The shift in the approach for the larger grant recipients is something the City says it is hoping to establish in order to provide greater certainty for both the City and the Societies, particularly when it comes to annual budget development.

Back in October, Councillor Cunningham raised some issues related to the pace of the ongoing negotiations towards that goal. The conversation which took place towards the end of the October 24th session included comments from Mayor Lee Brain, who noted at that time some of the challenges of those negotiations, highlighting for Council what the City was looking to accomplish with its planned change from the way the annual process was conducted in the past.

Councillor Thorkelson  as well has had some thoughts of her own on the issue Community Grants speaking to the need for a more equitable process back in September.

In their notice from the December 2nd paper, the City notes that any inquiries related to the proposed changes should be addressed to the City's Corporate Administrator, Mr. Rory Mandryk by 4 PM on Friday, December 9th.

Though it would seem that they don't want to make for much of a burden for Mr. Mandryk when it comes to fielding any questions. Other than the notice in the back section of the Friday paper, which may or may not get read, there has been no mention of the proposed agreement in any of the city's other communication services.

The City website makes no mention of it in either of the sections dedicated towards News Releases or Notices, nor does the City's own Facebook page draw attention to the topic.

And two of Council's more prolific users of social media have not to this point, brought the topic to the attention of the public either.  When it comes to making use of social media both the Mayor and Councillor Blair Mirau are quick to make note of some of their past council initiatives and other social activities mostly through their Facebook pages.

However, any observations on this new Grants theme, or even a note related to the opportunity for residents to share thoughts with the city on this new proposal, are not as of yet to be found on either the Mayor's Facebook portal, or that of Councillor Mirau.

City Council has only one public session left before they take a break for the holidays, that council meeting is coming up on December 12th. And while the agenda for that meeting won't be posted to the city website until later this week, one imagines that considering some of the concerns that both  Councillor's Cunningham and Thorkelson have raised in the past, Council will provide some clarity on what the plan is moving forward.

The public Council forum would provide a helpful venue for some further background for the public and an opportunity for City Council members to put their thoughts on the record, outlining for the community as to how this new proposal might work and what impact it will have on the city and taxpayers.

In the mean time with the December 9th inquiries deadline looming, if anyone is inclined to learn more about what the City's plan might be, or may have some comments to offer up on a proposal for which little is yet known, Mr. Mandryk can be reached at or by fax at 250-627-0999.

More items of note related to City Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

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