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Popular grant funding reallocated indefinitely

Community Initiatives Program grants will now cover operating costs only

ATHABASCA - A provincial grant stream relied upon by many organizations across the region to support projects to enhance and enrich their communities, is being re-allocated for the foreseeable future.

The Alberta government announced in a press release May 12 that Community Initiatives Program (CIP) project-based grant funding has been re-allocated to the CIP operating grant stream.

The project-based funding was granted on a matching basis for new programs, or enhancements to existing programs; community events; gender equity projects; technology; and portable equipment. Operating grants are meant to help struggling charities and non-profits maintain their core operations and services during the coronavirus pandemic – wages, rent and utilities.

“It’s primarily because of the need. The government has to prioritize based on need and a lot of the project-based applications came forward in the middle of January, but most of those projects recognized they were not able to move forward in the timelines,” said Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock MLA Glenn van Dijken.

Many charities and non-profits are seeing increased interest as people are unable to find consistent work because of the pandemic, which leads to additional costs for the organization. Supplies to maintain cleanliness can come at a big cost, he added.

“It’s a recognition that COVID-19 is making it difficult for some of these project-based grants to move forward.”

The reallocation will see an additional $2 million added to the operating grant stream, bringing it up to $8 million.

Although the January intake has been cancelled, the news release notes that the usual May and September intakes will take place in June instead and will focus on food security, shelter and housing and addictions and mental health supports.

van Dijken also noted the money provided through the CIP grant is sourced from gaming and lottery money, and with casinos and other gaming facilities being closed for several months now, there will likely be a lasting impact on the grants for an indefinite amount of time.

“It’s not coming out of general revenue, these are dollars that are allocated based off of the gaming, lotteries and slots, so it’s not like the minister has a lot of extra money sitting around that she can utilize,” he said. “There is going to have to be some discussion as to how to fund this without lottery money.”

Going back to just 2017, the CIP grant has seen hundreds of thousands of dollars flow through the region. That year, Athabasca saw $85,000 for Athabasca Minor Hockey and the Athabaska Ultra 100 Trail Run.

R.F. Staples in Westlock was also granted $25,524 for school equipment, and the Westlock Curling Club accepted $75,000 in CIP funding for the 2017 Alberta Men's Provincial Curling Championships, the BP Cup.

In 2018, the food bank in Athabasca received $21,851; the Barrhead Art Club got $1,421; and the Alberta Trappers Association in Westlock was granted $30,188 for its annual rendezvous. The Hope Resource Centre in Westlock also started new programming with the help of a grant totalling $23,267.

Westlock also scored big in 2019 when the Canadian Tractor Museum received $6,250; the Trappers Association got another $30,707; and the Ukrainian Cultural Society got $4,000 for costume upgrades.

Late in 2019, the Westlock Curling Club was once again given a hand to host the BP Cup in 2020, with a $56,000 contribution from the CIP grant.

 

Chris Zwick,TownandCountryToday.com

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