Committee chair takes issue with county’s policy direction

ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council is a step closer to overhauling its system of distributing municipal grants, but the chair of council’s municipal Policy Committee says his group wasn’t consulted about the new system.

Councillors unanimously approved the new Grants Policy during last week’s regular monthly council meeting in Arichat, while simultaneously repealing its Core Community Organization Funding Policy, Municipal District Infrastructure Fund Policy, Municipal District Activity Fund Policy, Policy on Recreational Grants to Community Organizations, and Youth Leadership Development Grants Policy.

However, during the meeting’s public question period, Petit de Grat resident Robbie Fougere, who serves as the chair of Richmond County’s municipal Policy Committee, sought answers as to why the newly-installed Grants Policy had not reached his committee before coming to the council table for a formal vote.

“I have to wonder why this policy did not follow the same track that the other policies are following,” Fougere commented.

“Council approves all policies, so the Grant Policy, in my books anyway, is no different from the Travel Policy, because council ultimately approves them.”
While Warden Brian Marchand described Fougere’s claim as “a valid point” and later apologized to Fougere for the absence of the Grants Policy from committee discussions, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kent MacIntyre explained that the new framework for grant applications came up quickly during the county’s recent budget deliberations.

“There was a request of council that we review how we administered grants and to ensure that we could make it more cost-effective for the municipality, so there were many discussions during the budget deliberations on how that would happen,” MacIntyre recalled.

“We brought back to council how we can reduce the amount of funds that would be administered during the run of the year…This was a process approved by the ultimate policy-approvers, which is council, back during budget deliberations. We spent the last few weeks fine-tuning their request for a new grant policy. So that’s how that came about.”

Fougere suggested that council’s recent actions regarding the Grants Policy might negate the need for a formal Policy Committee within the county’s municipal framework.

“If council decides that we don’t need a policy committee, there’s no need for one,” Fougere remarked.

“But the fact that it was appointed by council, and that it was looking at all policies, I assumed that it would be all policies. But maybe I assumed too much.”