Members of the community attended an open forum at the North Peace Cultural Centre Tuesday morning to share their views on Community Gaming Grants.
Overwhelmingly, non-profit organizations in Fort St. John want there to be a three year minimum for grants. Carloyn Krauss, past-president of the Fort St. John Huskies, says that volunteers change often and don’t know how to properly fill out lengthy, complicated grant applications. North Peace Junior Hockey only received an $8,000 grant this year, when they normally receive around $38,000 annually.
As well as their complaints, residents also brought their suggestions for how to improve the application process. Andy Ackerman, a grant writer for the North Peace Economic Development Commission, suggests following up when information is missing from an application, rather than just denying it. Arden Smith, Department Manager with South Peace Community Resources echoed that sentiment, adding that applications shouldn’t be able to be submitted unless all attachments are included.
Skip Triplett has been appointed by Premier Christy Clark to review Community Gaming Grants in BC. The intent is to create a sustainable funding system for non-profit and charitable organizations. He says much of what Fort St. John and Dawson Creek residents had to say was in line with what he’s been hearing on his 14 community review. Following what he’s heard, he is considering suggesting 3-year rolling funding that would be renewed annually.
However, a new idea was brought up in town that Triplett says may be useful. Krauss suggested having a mentor in the communities, or an advisory board comprised of members of the government as well as residents. They could help smaller organizations with their applications and discuss them in person.
Triplett is confident that this review will have a positive outcome. "The premier and the minister were raising some of the same concerns you were hearing this morning. They wouldn’t be asking me to do this if they were going to ignore the whole thing." The difficulty, he says, is creating "predictability in an uncertain world". His formal report, which will comprise of various options, as well as his recommendations, will be submitted to the BC government by October 31, 2011.