Gaming money vital to community groups

THE SEATS were filled at a meeting yesterday as community groups gave their views on why they needed gambling money to the man hired by the provincial government to review the program.

SKIP TRIPLETT takes notes while listening to speakers at the Gaming Grant Forum at the Coast Inn of the West yesterday. He is leading an independent review into the provincial government's role in giving out gaming revenues.

THE SEATS were filled at a meeting yesterday as community groups gave their views on why they needed gambling money to the man hired by the provincial government to review the program.

Representatives from many of the eight groups told former Kwantlen Polytechnic  University president Skip Triplett of the Community Gaming Grant Review the money was crucial to their operations.

Community groups were hit hard beginning last year when profits from gambling were diverted to general government revenue.

Representatives from the Terrace Art Association,  Volunteer Terrace, the Royal Canadian Legion and the poverty law advocate from Terrace and District Community Social Services all spoke.

Triplett is travelling around the province to 14 communities to hear what the people have to say about the government’s role in handing out gaming grant money.

He’s also holding forums by videoconference for five remote communities.

Terrace was his ninth stop and he has been hearing some similarities in what people in different places say, although they weren’t the similarities he was expecting.

“I was expecting to see regional differences and I’m not. The differences are in isolated communities vs. small or medium sized communities like this,” he said.

What makes isolated communities different is that their volunteer fire department or service clubs are often the only place in town to provide a particular service so if they’re not properly financed, there is no alternative, he said.

“I understand that,” he said, explaining that part of the year he lives in Salmon Beach, a small community about 20 km from Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.

The forums came about as premier Christy Clark and minister of community, sport and cultural development Ida Chong are quite concerned about gaming grant criteria, amounts, rules and processes that change too often, Triplett said.

He was asked to come up with options for gaming grants, which he believes  will be better than the current rules as options could be the same even if the government or minister changes, he said.

Before he began, he spoke to larger provincial organizations such as Search and Rescue BC, SportBC and MLAs on both sides of the legislature, and they were the first people to say he needed to focus on distant and isolated communities that didn’t have access to as many services as the big centres do.

The forums  finish Sept. 17 and then Triplett intends to disappear for about a month to put all the information he’s heard together and come up with his options no later than his deadline of Oct. 31.

His report will include common themes rather than talk about each community, which would make the report too large, he added.

But as the forums continue, every speaker’s words are gradually being transcribed and put on the Community Gaming Grant Review website.



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