City grant requests spark Terrace council debate

After reviewing a list of requests, councillors now want more detailed budget information from groups

City councillors are wrestling with decisions about whether certain groups should qualify for grants this year provided directly from the city and from subsidiary Terrace Community Forest.

After reviewing a list of requests, councillors now want more detailed budget information from groups.

“I kind of feel like I’m only getting half the information,” said councillor James Cordeiro at a recent council session.

Other issues include whether grant applications from profit-generating businesses should quality and another question is the eligibility of groups that typically receive money from provincial programs.

One example cited is the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club which is asking for $23,000 from the community forest’s profit pool of $150,000 for new stoves and oven for its restaurant and carpet.

Despite that request being reduced to $10,000 by the community forest’s profit distribution committee, councillor Stacey Tyers saw this as supporting a money-generating business which she thinks shouldn’t qualify.

“No other not-for-profit could come to this council and ask for money for those kinds of things and have us be OK with it,” said Tyers. “I don’t believe anyone could. I don’t think the Legion could come and ask for the kitchen upgrade. If so, I will tell them to come next year and ask for it.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” said Cordeiro, adding that the $30,000 tax exemption the golf club, which is in Thornhill, receives from the regional district is already a significant boost.

But councillor Brian Downie argued that the club’s request shouldn’t be considered a subsidy to a business in the normal sense because the club offers community charity event opportunities and struggles to make ends meet in the wet climate.

Tyers said that supporting a specific charity event at the golf club made sense but that she didn’t think buying the club a stove was appropriate.

Tyers also questioned the Kalum Community School Society’s request for  $10,000.

Tyers pointed out this is a case of a group that previously received money from the province but this year is asking the city for grants.

She thinks the city shouldn’t have to pick up where the province falls short.

For his part, Downie pointed out that perhaps the $1,500 requested by the Northwest Latin Group Society for a festival this year was a non starter because the Pacific Northwest Music Festival doesn’t apply for community grants.

Downie also wondered why the Provincial Networking Group Litter Clean-Up contract of $26,762, which has been covered by a grant, isn’t instead a budget item under the city’s leisure services department. “It’s not really a grant, but a service,” said Tyers in agreement with Downie’s position.

The final decisions on all these grants is delayed until a future date.

The city dispenses money through four streams – profits from its community forest, grants to community groups, grants to groups for special events and grants to larger services such as the Terrace and District Museum Society which runs Heritage Park.

This year community groups have asked for a combined $105,487 under the community grants program when just under $82,000 is available.

The Terrace Community Forest has $150,000 to dispense this year, which comes close to the $156,845 being requested. Groups which want to stage special events are asking for $26,950.

The larger agencies offering services – Terrace Public Library, the Museum Society, the Terrace Economic Development Authority and Kermode Tourism go through a somewhat separate budget process. A portion of their financing comes from the Kitimat-Stikine regional district’s rural areas surrounding Terrace.

So who is asking for money?

Here is a list of the groups asking for money from the city and from its community forest:

Community grants

Twelve groups have applied for community grants totally $105,487 with a maximum of $82,000 available in the 2015 budget.

These include: Volunteer Terrace which is asking $10,000 for program delivery, Caledonia Dry Grad-$2,020 for facility rental and another $2,020 for their prom; Bread of Life Soup Kitchen is requesting $1,000; Green Thumb Garden Society is asking for $5,000 for fruit trees, soil upgrades, and other programming; Terrace & District Arts Council wants $22,500 after being cut short last year from a higher request; Provincial Networking Group for a Litter Clean-Up contract wants $26,762; Skeena Valley Model Railroad Association $685; Greater Beautification Society $500; Northwest Latin Group Society $1,500; Helping hands of Terrace Society $23, 500; Kalum Community School Society $10,000.

Community forest

Seventeen groups have applied for grants totalling $156,845, with $150,000 coming in from the municipal forestry company, which is a 50 per cent rise in available money over last year.

The groups who are applying include: the City of Terrace (COT) Ferry Island, which is applying for $8,000 for dangerous tree removal; COT Howe Creek Trails is requesting $5,000 for upgrades to trails; My Mountain Co-Op wants $15,000 for an upgraded energy meter; the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club wants $23,000 for a new stove and carpets, but administration has recommended giving them $10,000; the Skeena Valley Nordic Ski Club wants $15,000 for a new groomer; Terrace Off Road Cycling Association wants $7,500 for a new bike trail and bike park; the Northwest Science and Innovation group wants $1,500 to host their science fair; the Skeena Valley Snowmobile Association wants $11,655 for a day-use cabin on Sterling Mountain; Terrace Salmonid Enhancement wants $9,925 to install new signage at the Eby St. Hatchery; Caledonia Secondary Outdoors Club wants $10,000 for new canoes, trailer and other items; The Dr. R.E.M. Lee foundation wants $10,000 to go towards their new High Definition Endoscopy Machine; Ksan House Society wants $4,920 to help them develop an urban forest; the Mount Remo Backcountry Society is looking for $10,000 to install a waste disposal system on a backcountry cabin; the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area wants $12,000 for Heritage Tree Maintenance Planning; The Skeena Nass Centre for Innovation wants $5,000 for the Northwest Regional Challenge; the Terrace Community Foundation wants $10,000 for an endowment; and on top of this the city is recommending $4,500 for trail improvements around Kitsumgallum Cemetery.

The original version of this story has now been corrected to state that the Terrace Community Forest profit distribution committee recommended the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club request for $23,000 be reduced to $10,000.