The North Valley Gymnastics Society’s application for a Vernon council discretionary grant of $25,000 was not accepted. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon doles out discretionary grants

Eight groups out of 26 applications will split more than $25,000; some notables were left out

Limited funds for disbursement. Didn’t meet criteria.

Those are the two main reasons 18 organizations did not receive City of Vernon council discretionary grants, while eight organizations were awarded a total of $25,533 worth of grants.

The city has $50,000 per year for discretionary grants and usually distribute in two intakes, one in the spring, one in the fall. Last year’s grants were handed out only once due to the fall municipal election.

“I’m a little disappointed in the lack of depth of these recommendations,” said Coun. Scott Anderson. “In previous years, there were detailed justifications for saying no or yes. This year it’s just a standard ‘Vernon has limited funds.’ Well that doesn’t tell me anything.

“The BC Dragoons requested $10,000 and I have no idea what they requested, what the justifications were, and no idea why we said no to them. I have trouble rubber stamping something put in front of me like this. I can’t vote for something I know nothing about essentially.”

Couns. Akbal Mund and Kari Gares, and Mayor Victor Cumming sit on the three-person committee that selects and distributes the grants.

“We had requests for more than $240,000 and we have $50,000 to distribute between organizations that apply,” said Mund. “The three of us on the committee went through the applications, we said ‘let’s look at what the terms of reference (for the grants) are, what each individual believes who they should vote for to support.’ We rated them and compared notes.

“There’s no easy way to spread $50,000 out. It was decided by consensus the groups that were getting the grants were the ones we all agreed upon. The ones we didn’t, we didn’t have the funds or they didn’t meet the criteria. It’s that simple.”

The largest grant awarded was a one-time grant of $6,000 (of $8,000 requested) by the Vernon Horseshoe Club for site preparation for the 2020 provincial championships.

Among the applications rejected was one for $25,000 by the North Valley Gymnastics Society to help defer costs of their new facility. The society came before council to specifically request the money and were told to apply for a discretionary grant. Yet the report to council said the society “does not meet the discretionary grant criteria.”

“We were all excited about it (society application) at the time,” said Coun. Brian Quiring. “What went wrong?”

“They didn’t meet the criteria under the terms of reference,” said Mund. “We don’t give out funds to groups who ask for us money but they were told to apply for a grant. Under the terms of reference, they didn’t fall under the criteria. Whoever brought that up hasn’t sat on the committee.”

Added Gares: “It’s not a question of playing favourites. If that was the case, we would have vastly different outcomes than we see today.”

More grants will be awarded in the fall.

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