By Scott Costen
Flexibility. Fairness. Transparency.
These are the hallmarks of Region of Queens Municipality’s new community funding model, adopted by council yesterday and scheduled to take effect April 1, 2019.
The Community Investment Fund (CIF), as the program will be known, will replace a patchwork of opaque and outdated grant programs that seem to favour the same groups every year. The new catch-all program will consider applications from community organizations for capital investment, operating grants, event funding and training support.
In a news release, Mayor David Dagley said, “The (CIF) will be a more efficient policy, with clear criteria and reporting mechanisms across all grants.” His enthusiasm for the program was shared by councillors, who unanimously approved it.
“It’s a wonderful policy,” said Coun. Susan MacLeod.
“This is awesome,” remarked Coun. Heather Kelly.
“This is a long time coming,” said Coun. Brian Fralic. “It puts everybody on an even playing field.”
Council deserves credit for demanding a better process for supporting community organizations and events. But the heavy lifting was done by a small number of municipal staff, led by CAO Chris McNeill.
Endowed this year with $200,000, the program will be funded to the tune of $175,000 annually going forward. “It’s more generous, but it’s also more onerous,” McNeill said. “There’s more reporting from organizations, there’s more accountability from organizations.”
It’s important to note that not all community groups will be cheering when the CIF is implemented. In fact, some of the “usual suspects” — who received funding in previous years despite late, incomplete or otherwise uninspiring applications — may find themselves bitterly disappointed.
McNeill acknowledged as much during yesterday’s council meeting. “Some people may be very positively impacted and some people may be affected negatively,” he said.
Community groups would be wise to heed the CAO’s warning and familiarize themselves with the program before it’s implemented.