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Community groups look to RMOW for grants

CEP program reduced by a third this year due to 2008 budget cuts

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Twenty groups from the Whistler community approached council this week to apply for grants to help fund their non-profit programs.

Applicants for the Community Enrichment Program (CEP) ranged from animal and environmental initiatives, to groups benefiting disadvantaged members of society, to school programs for elementary and high school kids.

“I want to thank everybody for their volunteer efforts on behalf of the community,” said Mayor Ken Melamed at the two-hour Monday afternoon meeting.

“There are a lot of good applicants this year, and it is going to be tough to choose.”

While the number of groups applying this year for the CEP grants increased by five compared to last year, the pot of money available is smaller.

According to municipality spokesperson Diana Waltmann, the sum of money available has been cut by a third following financial pressure council faced this year balancing the 2008 budget.

A total of $173,000 is available this year, compared to $264,000 last year. This amount does not include the fees for service, said Waltman, which have also been cut by a third.

Despite this, hopes were high at the council meeting, with presenters outlining both their achievements in the past year and their goals for the upcoming months.

In their presentations to council, each group had to outline how their program falls in line with goals set by Whistler2020, including environmental sustainability.

Melamed commended the groups for their thorough work identifying these objectives.

“I am really impressed in the level of detail used in the forms,” he said.

During the meeting, Councillor Eckhard Zeidler also stressed the need for each group to identify how many dollars of grant money will go to each person in the group. For example, a group of 50 people would receive more money per person than a group of 100 people for the same amount of grant money.

“With the budget challenges, we need to always be looking for the value of our investment,” said Zeidler.

The municipality’s Corporate Officer accepted all applications for the CEP grants by Feb. 15, and the recipients will be awarded the grants by the end of April.

The amount of money granted to each group will vary, with a maximum contribution being 40 per cent of a program’s costs.

The grants will last for a year, and groups must apply each year to be considered. Grants are not to be considered by community groups as automatic, ongoing sources of funding.

Groups seeking funding include: Myrtle Philip school, the Get Bear Smart Society, the Sea to Sky Community Services Society, Spring Creek Community School, Whistler Skating Club, Whistler Community Services Society, AWARE, Whistler for Youth, X-Life Youth Society, the Zero Ceiling Society, Whistler Writers Group (Vicious Circle), Whistler Adaptive Sports Program, Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Ski Club, Whistler Gymnastics Club, WORCA, Whistler Youth Soccer Club, Whistler Children’s Chorus, Whistler Secondary School Drama Club, Peak Performance Dance Force, Whistler Film Festival for the Whistler Institute and Whistler Search and Rescue.

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