ARICHAT: Council deferred two funding requests to budget deliberations.

During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on April 26, the Friends of St. John’s Arichat Society sent a letter to council about the St. John’s Centre for the Arts, which is the former Anglican church in Arichat.

“Their goal is to keep it open as a living space available for others to use, and for them to host affordable, fine and performing arts events,” Warden Amanda Mombourquette told council.

Thanks to a Community Accessibility grant from the provincial government, Mombourquette said the society was able to install a fully accessible washroom, but because of the pandemic, they have been unable to host public events and have relied on donations to cover a year’s worth of operating expenses.

Those donations are starting to dry up, and because they have no paid staff, the society was ineligible for federal and provincial grant streams that dealt with COVID-19, the warden noted.

“This is a very uncertain climate for them,” Mombourquette told council.

The society has two applications before the Department of Communities Culture and Heritage, totalling $43,000, to replace the roof, and if those are successful, the warden said it will provide them with the financial stability needed to use the facility for years to come.

To continue paying operating costs, Mombourquette said they are looking for $1,500 from the municipality.

District 1 Councillor Shawn Samson applauded the society’s volunteers for their hard work preserving the building.

“My family has attended some of those concerts, and to everyone that’s attended those concerts, those are great events for our community, great events for our musicians and the local talent in this area,” he told council. “I’d like to put a motion forward that we look at the situation, and this funding request during budget deliberations, and see if there’s some funding there.”

The non-profit co-operative focused on early years child development, Raising the Villages, asked council for $5,000.

After holding consultations around Cape Breton, the group decided it was the time to go with a co-op model, the warden told council.

“In the community conversations, they confirmed what they already felt to be true, that it was the right to make a transition from a largely municipally funded initiative to a non-profit in their own right,” Mombourquette explained.

The warden said the group has a board of nine members and had scheduled a retreat for this month, before public health restrictions were put in place. She said Raising the Villages plans to make a presentation to council “in the near future,” but ahead of that, they wrote asking for financial assistance to launch their co-op model since the municipality is in budget deliberations.

“They plan to continue expanding their community partners in Richmond County by contacting child care providers in Potlotek, as well as the Richmond County Early Childhood Education Association and La Centre Préscolaire de La Picasse,” she added.