The Richmond County Early Childhood Education Association’s Christmas Holiday Bonanza is held each year at the D’Escousse Civic Improvement Centre. The annual event - which offers food, crafts and a visit from Santa Claus - is the main fundraiser for daycare groups in the county.

ARICHAT: Funding for two local groups and the municipality’s overall grant policy were the topics of debate for councillors last week.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on November 26, the decisions to approve a type 2 activity grant of $500 to the Richmond County Early Childhood Education Association and a $500 type 2 activity grant to the River Bourgeois Seniors 50+ Club generated a lot of discussion.

One of those who voted against the grant to the daycare group, Deputy Warden Brian Marchand, said after some thought and review, he learned the group is financially healthy.

The other nay vote came from district 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher who noted that council already committed $10,000 to the association, but they can return to the council table if they need help in the future.

District 1 councillor James Goyetche responded that council has approved grants for organizations in the past that did not have to prove a financial need. He recommended council revisit the grant structure to define who is deserving of assistance.

“If we have to look at financial statements from one and question whether they deserve the grants, or they don’t, then we gotta be careful we treat every organization in the same light,” Goyetche told council.

Marchand maintained that council does treat all groups equally, but agreed that the grant policy must be amended, especially in cases where the ownership of infrastructure or property needs to be clarified. He requested that council increase their annual grant from $10,000 to the daycare organization to avoid more funding requests in the future.

District 2 councillor Alvin Martell explained that the early childhood education group is partially funded by the provincial government and the municipality, with the rest coming from community fundraising like the recent Christmas Holiday Bonanza in D’Escousse.

The debate arose after council unanimously approved recommendations from the committee-of-the-whole to greenlight a type 2 activity grant for $500 to the Richmond County Seniors Council and a type 2 activity grant for $450 to the River Bourgeois Mariner Society.

When the request from the River Bourgeois 50+ Seniors Club came up, Warden Jason MacLean explained the application fit more appropriately under the type 2 category even though the group applied under type 3 and were looking for $908.

Boucher said he would support the grant if the club can supply the municipality’s financial department with receipts and how many will be attending their fundraising meal.

If the funding application is time-sensitive, Martell said this delay could cost the group and others, but he agreed with Marchand that these cases demonstrate the need to change the overall grant policy.

The warden added he sees both sides of the debate.

“Whenever there is a grant request, we ask for financial statements,” MacLean noted. “They’re quite healthy with regards to that, but councillor Martell made an excellent point that it’s sort of a time-sensitive issue.”