By Cindy Filipenko
The Village of Pemberton council this week voted unanimously to approve the Community Enhancement Program Policy.
The new policy, also known as the Grant-in-Aid program, outlines both priorities and process to make it easier for council to decide on what has — until recently — been a series of ad hoc requests for financial support.
With criteria designed to help council determine the value of a project to the village and its residents, the new Community Enhancement Program requires applicants follow a set of guidelines. Applicants must now provide proof of not-for-profit status and provide budget for their event or activity that includes disclosure of how the grant funds will be spent.
The VOP will accept applications on a continuous basis throughout the years. The new paperwork emphasizes that grants will not necessarily be made available to organizations from year to year and new applications must be made annually.
Under its current form the program, expected to be a VOP and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District joint operation, has a budget of $15,000. So far, more than half that budget has been allocated to fulfill funding requests from the Chamber of Commerce, The Third Annual Slow Food Cycle, the Inchomiya Friendship Society and Imagine Pemberton.
Councilor David Mackenzie generated the one moment of debate that arose during Tuesday’s council meeting. Mackenzie posed how a $2,500 request from the Slow Food Cycle would fit within the new criteria. Citing it as primarily a “valley event” Mackenzie tabled the question as to whether or not the Slow Food Cycle really fit the criteria of “promoting the village of Pemberton” — the number one consideration of the new policy’s criteria.
Councillor Jennie Helmer, whose sister Anna Helmer is one of the successful Slow Food event’s organizers, vigorously defended the project, noting that the requested funds had been reduced to $1,500. After amending the allocation to “not to exceed $2,000”, the request was passed.
A report tabled by village treasurer, Nikki Gilmore noted that the VOP also anticipates applications for funding from the animal protection organizations PAWS and WAG, Equifest and the Canada Day Committee.