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Little left in community policy grant funding pool

County of Barrhead council approves $7,000 in community policy grant funding
The last booth on the 2023 Pumpkin Walk was Footworks Dance Academy, whose dancers performed multiple shows to popular Halloween-themed music titles, including Michael Jackson's Thriller.

BARRHEAD - The cupboard is almost bare. The question is whether County of Barrhead councillors will choose to restock it.

On April 16, councillors approved three applications for two community hall associations and one from the organizers of a long-time, popular Halloween-themed event for $7,000 through the Community Policy Grant policy.

The policy, which has been in place since February 2021, allows eligible community organizations to receive up to $2,500 in funding that can go towards a project or event that benefits county residents.

The program is capped at $15,000 annually, with funding coming from the recreation organizational reserve.

To be eligible for a community grant, groups must be registered non-profit societies, charitable organizations, volunteer groups, or service clubs that provide services within or that are readily accessible to county residents. Groups must also be in good standing with the municipality and can demonstrate that the grant will be used for a project, service, structure, or event. After the approvals, $250 remains in the funding pool.

"It's only April, and there is only $250 remaining. What will we do with the other groups that will be looking for community grant funding?" Coun. Walter Preugschas asked.

She added that one reason for that is that the municipality is seeing more applications from community hall associations since the county engaged them in developing a community hall strategy.

"Now they are taking action," she said, adding that council had the option of topping off the community grant funding pool using money from the organizational reserve.

Cross Roads Community Centre

The first application councillors approved was $2,500 from the Cross Roads Community Centre Association, better known as the Gardenview Community Hall.

The community centre plans to use the funds to offset the cost of installing an access gate at its main entrance. The association estimates the project's costs at $5,000.

County manager Debbie Oyarzun recommended approving the application, saying it checked all the necessary boxes. The applicant was a not-for-profit in good standing with the municipality that provided beneficial and open services to Barrhead residents. Under the policy, the applicant must also contribute at least 50 per cent of the funding through direct cash or work-in-kind.

The society is providing $1,500 and approximately $1,000 in volunteer hours.

Reeve Doug Drozd asked if the society had indicated why they wanted to install the gate, saying none of the other community halls have them.

Administrative assistant to the county manager Pam Dodds said that the hall receives a lot of extra traffic because of its location, adding that a popular wedding venue is across from it.

"So they are having some issues of people going across the [hall's] yard," she said.

Coun. Paul Properzi added many of the other community halls are either considering installing access gates or have already installed them.

"At the Glenreagh Community Hall, people are camping there, especially as no people are patrolling and policing that sort of thing," he said.

Coun. Bill Lane agreed, noting he often sees people camped on the Summerdale Community Hall grounds.

Dodds said one problem with people using community hall grounds as impromptu camping sites is that it robs the associations running them of a much-needed source of income, which impacts their viability.

Oyarzun agreed, adding that security was one of the issues brought up the most by community hall boards during the engagement sessions.

Deputy reeve Marvin Schatz said he could understand why.

"They have a grassed area that they use as a parking lot, and people come in and wreck it by spinning doughnuts," he said.

Mellowdale Community Hall Association

Councillors also approved a $2,500 community grant for the Mellowdale Community Association to improve its baseball diamond.

Like the previous association, Oyarzun said administration recommends approval as Mellowdale meets all the criteria, including the matching portion of the estimated $8,740 project cost.

She noted the association is contributing $4,500 cash and roughly $1,750 in volunteer hours and materials, or more than 70 per cent of the projected project costs.

She added the association has seen an increase in community organizations booking the baseball diamond due to the closure of the Camp Creek Community Hall and the loss of its ball fields.

Barrhead Community Pumpkin Walk

The final community grant was $2,000 to the Barrhead Community Pumpkin Walk organizers.

The walk sees children receive treats while following a path of jack-o-lanterns carved by local school students. Pembina West Co-op started the event close to 20 years ago when then-manager Allan Cote noticed Barrhead did not have any family-friendly, safe alternatives to trick-or-treating. This year's event is Oct. 25, and the estimated cost is $10,000.

Oyarzun said the organizing committee hopes to expand the event, which regularly attracts upwards of 4,000 or more, to create a more inclusive family event, attract more people from outside the community, and generate a more block party atmosphere.

"The event is pretty unique to Barrhead and is one of the things we are known for outside the community. It already draws people from all over the region," Drozd said.

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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