Organizations Awarded Funding

Organizations Awarded Funding

Michelle Pinon
News Advertiser

Community groups in the County of Two Hills and the County of Minburn were recently awarded recreation grant funding.

Members of Two Hills County council decided to keep the status quo and keep the same levels of funding as 2019.

During discussion at the Oct. 28 regular monthly meeting Coun. Murray Phillips said he thought they were going to review the policy, which includes eligibility requirements and funding formula, but that never happened.

Coun. Dianne Saskiw pointed out that “people have come to count on it” and that now was not the best time to do that. Coun. Elroy Yakemchuk agreed and recommended they review the policy next year. Reeve Don Gulayec said those groups have had no ability to raise funds because of COVID-19 and also recommended they leave things as they are for the time being.

Coun. Soren Odgard said the amount of funding was based on usage. It was confirmed the funding formula is still the same, but it was pointed out that some groups who have received funding in the past have not been qualified to receive it. Reeve Gulayec said it has been an issue and council has struggled with it for many years. “All groups need help, but we need to look at the funding model.”

Coun. Phillips said it is a question of fairness and they will have to address that. Reeve Gulayec said they will have to see outside the box and look at what groups give back to the community and not just their members. He suggested they have a policy meeting. Coun. Saskiw suggested they review the policy in December.

The current policy was approved on April 13, 1999 and last revised on February 28, 2011. According to the policy, “Distribution of Recreation Funds as announced in the annual municipal operating budget may be distributed to community recreation facility operators within the County of Two Hills No. 21 and/or corporate boundaries of the Town of Two Hills and Villages of Willingdon, Myrnam and Derwent that make their facilities available (at rates levied for their community residents) to the Two Hills County residents/ratepayers.

Written applications must include a justification by actual cost (invoices upon request) and must also be accompanied by an audited facility annual financial statement. According to its definition, community recreation facility/halls are open to the public all year or seasonal with the exception of senior’s halls that do not provide recreation facilities to the general public.

Qualifying operating expenses include utilities, insurance, and fuel; 75 percent of budget. Minor maintenance costs include paint, light bulbs as well as life cycle maintenance costs such as and not excluding roof repairs, heating, ventilation, and window repair; 25 percent of budget. Should requests exceed budget amount, funding allocation will be adjusted accordingly.

The county budgeted $100,000 in 2019 and 2020 for recreation and hardship grants. In 2019 there were a total of 30 community groups who received funding. Some of those groups included churches, community halls, agricultural societies, curling clubs and senior citizens centres to name a few.

The County of Minburn approved its recreation grants in September. Recipients included the Town of Vegreville Recreation, Culture & Facilities, $309,500; Mannville & District Agricultural Society, $109,300; Innisfree & District Agricultural Society, $43,300; Minburn & District Agricultural Society, $23,300; Ranfurly & District Agricultural Society, $23,300; and the Lavoy Action Society, $18,300. The remainder of the funds are used to operate county owned facilities at Wapasu and the Rotary Peace Park in Vegreville.

County of Minburn Reeve Roger Konieczny explained, “For recreation funding, the County imposes a recreation levy on each property in the municipality and distributes this money in full to the three urban municipalities in our boundaries as well as to the various agricultural societies.

This amount collected is generally around $500,000 annually and we will do our best to maintain this level of funding into the future. Further to this, the County distributes most of its $170,000 operating grant from the province to many of the small rural community halls and organizations that help them maintain facilities under their control. Last, the County also owns and funds the Wapasu Lake Conservancy, south of Innisfree and the Rotary Peace Park just outside of Vegreville, which is done with the help of the Rotary Club in Vegreville.”