ARICHAT: Once again, the subject of grant funding to community groups has generated debate around the council table.
During Richmond Municipal Council’s committee of the whole meeting on December 19 in Arichat, council approved a one-year extension to the timeline for a $20,000 grant that was approved two years ago for the Lennox Passage Yacht Club in D’Escousse to conduct rehabilitation work and $500 for the Food for Children Society which brings food to schools across the Strait area.
Speaking as a principal, Richmond Warden Jason MacLean said the program has made a “big difference in the lives of students” and continues “to feed a lot of mouths.”
As for a type 2 activity grant to Development Isle Madame Association for $500 to host Noel Isle Madame at LeNoir Landing , and a request from the West Bay Pastoral Charge for $1,000 for their Christmas baskets project, council was less than unanimous.
Chief Financial Officer Jason Martell told council that the pastoral group is not registered with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stocks and did not formally apply for funding before the event in question. He said council could violate their policy by approving funding.
Chief Administrative Office Kent MacIntyre agreed, pointing to a recent case in which another group, that was also not registered, was deemed ineligible for assistance according to the municipal grant policy.
Noting that he does not want to “break policy,” District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher said all groups should be aware of the policy before applying for funding.
Pointing out that council is not questioning the need of the Christmas basket project, deeming it a “worthy cause,” the warden said the municipality has policies, and the pastoral charge did not meet their criteria.
Unhappy with the consensus of council, Deputy Warden Brian Marchand suggested that the DIMA grant request, despite the earlier recommendation of the committee of the whole to approve funding, could be denied at the regular council meeting in January.
“The grant we approved tonight is not approved until regular council, that will be after the DIMA event happens,” he told council. “If you’re all so good at following policy, this is not a regular council. That grant is not really approved until regular council even though it will already have happened, so that grant will be violating the policy.”
District 1 councillor James Goyetche shot back that the West Bay Pastoral Charge didn’t make a formal grant application, but instead sent a letter to council, whereas Development Isle Madame made the application on time before their event. He added that it is not the fault of DIMA that council did not have a regular meeting in December.
Council voted against the request from the West Bay Pastoral Charge.