Amid the cutbacks to the provincial gaming grant program the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program (WASP) saw its application for funds rejected a second time, once again forcing the organization to seek support from the private sector and groups like Rotary.
WASP applied for $45,000 to help cover its operating costs and would have requested a separate infrastructure grant if that program had still been available.
Executive director Chelsey Walker says one of the reasons they didn't receive the grant was the group's strong financial position on paper, while in reality most of the money is already reserved for the creation of a new welcome and equipment centre at Olympic Station on Whistler Mountain.
"In the guidelines for a B.C. Gaming Grant (an organization) is not meant to carry forward more than 50 per cent of their balance on a year-to-year basis, and we're in the unique situation where we've also been actively fundraising for a capital project for several years now," said Walker. "We have restricted those funds towards that project, but as a result we also show a positive balance sheet which reduces our eligibility for grants."
More than a dozen groups in Whistler had applied for gaming grants.
WASP received $150,000 for the centre from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation in April, on top of $150,000 in in-kind donations from the First Canadian Development Corporation, $25,000 from Scotiabank, and funding from the American Friends of Whistler. They are now just over $113,000 away from breaking ground on a new 2,000 square foot, two-storey building.
Being denied a grant doesn't change anything for WASP, but it does force the organization to look for funding during a time when companies and organizations are reigning in spending.
"We will definitely have to look for funding elsewhere to be able to offer the same level of service and programming that we have been offering," said Walker. "It would have been great to have received funding, it would have taken the pressure off other funding sources, but we're going to continue to look at other sources so we can continue to operate."
Walker says the Olympic and Paralympic Games have helped to draw attention to sports in general, and especially adaptive sports. She is concerned that funding from governments and corporations could disappear after 2010.
"We're about to put on an exceptional Games, and it's been tremendous to capture that momentum in sport in B.C. and Canada, but we hope to see continued funding for sports organizations at the local, provincial and national level through 2010 and beyond," she said.
Demand for WASP programming and services has increased every year, to the point where the organization is teaching over 1,000 ski and snowboard lessons every year. WASP also backs a grass roots competitive program, organizes a provincial adaptive skiing and snowboarding event, and assists with other sports like cross-country skiing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, hiking and hand cycling. This year WASP will be expanding its cross-country program while extending the competitive program to include people with cognitive disabilities as well as physical disabilities.