Over the past couple of years, Cumberland has directed Restart funding grant money to a number of initiatives.
The federal-provincial program was set up to help communities through COVID-19-related economic challenges, though the money will not be available in the future.
“We are coming to the end of our Restart funding process,” economic development officer Kaelin Chambers told council at a meeting in late March.
Council had agreed to devote some of the remainder to a grant-in-aid program for community projects and groups, similar to its regular program, though the Restart grants can support seed operational funding requests. For the Restart funding, the village received five requests for the $40,000 set aside. There is still more available that council can use for now.
“I would say that all five groups were very, very articulate in expressing their need,” Chambers said.
The requests were from the Cumberland Community School Society for the Cumberland Food Share ($20,000); the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Association for the Cumberland Market Nutrition Coupon Program ($8,000); the Cumberland Business Association’s THRIVE Grant Project and Cumberland Community Map Project ($20,000); the Comox Valley Community Health Network Substance Use Strategy Phase 2 ($10,000); and the Comox Bay Care Society Care-A-Van Mobile Health Outreach ($3,336).
“I really do appreciate the work that these non-profits are doing,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said. “I do worry though that we got this big allotment … and that it won’t be coming again…. I’m not sure how we’re going to fund them in the future.”
Similarly, Coun. Vickey Brown said this was an opportunity to spread some of the Restart money to people in the community who need it the most while the funding is available.
Council wanted more details around the THRIVE project, particularly on the future of artwork in the downtown that could be affected by planned development. The staff report notes it is a street art and ‘place-making’ project.
Chambers noted there is other funding available for the CBA’s community map project. The village put aside money last year for the CBA’s wayfinding and signage project and had enough left over for the mapping.
In the end, council voted to award requested amounts to the community school society, farmers’ market, the health network and Care-A-Van from this grant-in-aid funding. They also suggested staff work with the business association on the THRIVE project for a new grant application to funders from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) and also supported using $10,160 for the mapping project from money currently available through the wayfinding signage project.