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Cumberland council backs BIA funding and emergency food program

Council expects events requesting grants will likely not happen as planned
The Dodge City Triathlon was one of five events requesting funding from Cumberland this year, though the status of the events is uncertain in light of the pandemic. file photo: Lorenz Jimenez

Cumberland council had decided to hold off grants in aid except for one request aimed at boosting economic development.

It is also redirecting some funds toward a food program.

Most of the requests were tied to events or projects that will likely be cancelled as a result of current COVID-19 pandemic.

The item was part of a short agenda on April 9 at which council met for the first time via Internet video.

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Council members had to decide on its $10,000 budget for the community grant program. As is the case with other communities’ grant-in-aid programs, these typically support particular events or projects in the community as opposed to covering regular operating costs for local organizations. They can also cover seed funding. Council had sent out requests to community groups earlier this year for proposals.

“We received six new applications for 2020,” corporate officer Rachel Parker told council. “Five of them are event-related. One is for seeding funding…. We also had two financial requests outside the grant-in-aid program.”

The staff report outlined the items council was to consider: a Vancouver/Cumberland Chinatown reunion picnic ($1,418.72 requested); the Cumberland Business Society’s business improvement area plan ($4,000); the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 17 remembrance of the anniversary of Dutch liberation ($1,000); the Steam Donkey Racing Club’s Dodge City X Triathlon ($1,000); the Strathcona Cycling Society gravel road cycling event ($2,000); and the Variety children’s telethon ($1,000).

As well, the couple of other funding requests to council were cited in the report - the Kumugwe Society’s totem project ($5,000) and the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership ($1,000) for a symposium that has been postponed to October.

The sentiment around the council table was to help provide some support for generating economic development in the community in response to the current fallout from the pandemic. For the events, the concern was that many will cancel, if they have not already done so.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, of course, at this time with these events,” Parker said. “Most organizations were unable to tell us at this point.”

Staff presented council with a few options on how to proceed. Council members liked the idea of deferring some of the money to food bank programs for the community, as most felt the events requesting support would not be going ahead and that the community had other priorities.

“I think at this time events are the last thing we’re thinking about,” Coun. Gwyn Sproule said.

As far as the requests, the exception that council supported was the Cumberland Business Society plan to help an economic recovery. Staff added that the Village is surveying businesses to determine their current situation.

“The business recovery is going to be important, and the sooner they get on that, the better it’s going to be,” said Coun. Jesse Ketler. “I wouldn’t want to put off giving them that money.”

She requested the rest of the grant program money go to support the emergency food program.

Council passed a motion to direct $6,000 to the Cumberland Community School Society working with the Cumberland Weird Church on the Cumberland Food Share program. The motion also included support for the $4,000 request from the Cumberland Business Society for a grant application. This would be to help hire a contractor to create a business improvement area plan to guide the Village and business community toward the creation of a business improvement area bylaw.

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