By Cindy Filipenko
The Village of Pemberton’s (VOP) newly established grant in aid program, the Community Enhancement Fund (CEF), is operating at a deficit that exceeds its budget.
Less than six months into the year, and less than three months since the program was officially adopted, the VOP council has committed more than $31,000 to community projects when the fund has a budget of $15,000 per year.
Pushing the budget over the line was VOP’s decision to provide the Pemberton Childcare Society with a grant in aid equal to the society’s development cost charges. The total amount of the grant was $37,887. After initially agreeing to the grant, council revisited its decision and decided to divide the grant over a two-year period.
This means that not only has the grant placed this year’s CEF budget in a $16,000 deficit position, it will leave an almost $4,000 deficit next year.
Council had initially decided to request that Area C contribute towards the Pemberton Childcare Society’s almost $38,000 grant. That part of the motion was rescinded after council received a request from the society board expressing the wish to pursue matching funds from Area C Director Susie Gimse.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy argued against the decision.
“If we can cut our expenditures by half we won’t be in a deficit position for the grant in aid for next year,” reasoned the mayor. “It’s really about what financial position we want to find ourselves in this year and next year. We can also argue that we’ve given the Childcare Society a $150,000–$200,000 piece of land.”
The mayor noted that Area C select fund for the year amounted to $47,500. When noted that he did not want to speak for the director of Area C, Mayor Sturdy said he felt it was unlikely Director Gimse would spend $38,000 of that money on a single project.
Contacted subsequent to that decision, Director Gimse confirmed that a donation of that size would not be feasible for Area C.
During the discussion of the CEF budget Sturdy suggested that the fund be closed and that applicants be notified via a letter. A decision on what course of action will be taken is pending.
In the meantime, a request for $1,500 for a First Nations drum-making project at Signal Hill Elementary has been put on hold. The VOP is also expecting requests from Equifest, PAWD and the Canada Day Committee — groups it has supported in the past.
In addition to the childcare society, the Pemberton Arts Council, Pemberton Museum, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Inchomiya Friendship Society, the Slow Food Cycle and Community Garden have been recipients of grants in aid form the CEF. The total for the 10 other grants comes to $12,098, with the individual grants varying from $300 to $2,500.