Due to the economic uncertainly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oceanside Services Committee has decided not to go ahead with the distribution of grants this year from two of the Regional District of Nanaimo services programs.
The Northern Community Economic Development Service Grants and Oceaside Recreation Grant Services are vital sources of funding for local governments, schools groups and organizations in District 69.
The grants progams support local initiatives that enhance economic development and recreational activities respectivley in Electoral Areas E, F, G and H, the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach. The NCED, which has been around since 2012, has an annual budget of $50,000 while the ORGS, which started in 1994, is at $75,000.
RDN staff had indicated in its report to the committee at its meeting held on Wednesday, May 7, the economic impact of COVID-19 is still uncertain and that the RDN board will have to consider and prepare for the financial implications of the pandemic while balancing the need of communities within District 69 to sustain community connections and transition to a recovery.
For the 2020 spring intake, the NCED received two applicants, requesting funds totalling $47,500. One is the Town of Qualicum Beach which requested $2,500 for its airport signage project, and the other is the Alpine Counselling and Neurotheraphy Start up project which needed $22,500. The latter, however, was deemed ineligible for the grant.
As for the Town of Qualicum Beach signage, Oceanside Services Committee chairman Brian Wiese withdrew the application.
“Budget is going to be tight this year and I think in all honesty, we can’t move this forward at this point,” Wiese told the committee.
The Oceaside Recreation Grant Services has been available to all the communities within District 69 and includes youth oriented activities for ages 11 to 18 years. They include sports, outdoor, social and artistic activities.
At the April 24 deadline for the 2020 spring intake, 10 youth and 17 community applications were received, totalling $21,385 and $33,643, respectively, for a combined total of $55,028.
Among the groups that rely on the recreation grants is the Arrowsmith Community Recreation Association which offers a myriad of programs.
Kim Longmuir, ACRA co-ordinator, said that they submitted two applications before the deadline, one is for the ACRA’s youth basketball programs and that other is for the Coombs Candy Walk event.
“Our free youth drop-in basketball programs would have to go to participant paid, she said. “And the Candy Walk would have to make a decision as to what activities could not be offered.”
The ACRA is also planning to apply for more grants in August for the Coombs Family Day, Youth Week Basketball Tournament and the Coombs Community Picnic.
“At this very unsettled time, the ACRA respects the decision that the Oceanside Services Committee had to make,” said Longmuir, who added that if the grants are not available they would have to ask for the kindness of local businesses to support the programs. “But at this time of financial uncertainty for all businesses it would be a big ask.”
The committee, based on the recommendation of RDN staff, unanimously voted not to proceed with distribution of the grants this year. But the committee also decided that all ORGS applications be deferred until the next intake in August.
The motions will be presented to the RDN board for approval.