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Community groups look for money from smaller financial pie

MY Place, Arts Council, WAG vie for shrinking RMOW funds



Council has just $650,000 to divvy up among three deserving community groups who together are looking for almost $750,000 to stay alive or expand their programs.

The Whistler Arts Council is looking to almost double its municipal funding this year, asking for an additional $150,000 on top of the $165,000 they received last year.

The Whistler Arts Council wants more funding this year to keep the gathering momentum for arts and culture growing in the resort.

"We see the next three years as a major window of opportunity," said Anne Popma, chair of the Arts Council board.

One third of the additional $150,000 will go to enhancing existing programs. The remainder they need to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the 2010 Olympic Games.

MY Millennium Place would like $240,000 to cover operating costs and $120,000 to pay the interest on the outstanding $3.5 million mortgage on the building. Since 2004 the municipality has been paying the interest and it is guaranteeing that loan.

In total Millennium Place is asking for $360,000, which is roughly 36 per cent of its budget.

Chair of the board Jane Milner explained that community facilities like Millennium Place are usually subsidized between 20 to 40 per cent in B.C.

Whistler Animals Galore is looking for $73,500 – half the annual operating costs for running the shelter. That request comes despite the fact that only one quarter of the animals coming into the shelter are from Whistler, the rest from communities to the north.

To date, the other communities have yet to cough up any sizable funds to the shelter.

"So far we haven’t had a lot of regional support from our partners," said Carol Coffey, WAG’s executive director.

Council decided to pen a letter of support to Whistler’s partners to the north outlining the situation and expressing that the municipality cannot bear the burden alone.

Together the three requests amount to a grand total of almost $750,000, which means council is short $100,000 to meet all the needs.

Each group spoke to council Tuesday afternoon and outlined the reasons why they need the funding. Council will be apportioning the funds, which fall under the fee for service agreement under the Community Enrichment Program, within the next two weeks.

"Our budgeted amount is oversubscribed," said Mayor Ken Melamed after the presentations, adding that council would have to debate how the money will be split up among the groups.