Skip to content

Sechelt considers increasing COVID-19 restart grants

More than $1.5 million in pandemic related funding unspent
N.COVID grants 1
Community programs operated by the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society are being considered for a $10,000 award from Sechelt’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant program.

There may be a boon in store for Sechelt’s non-profit groups. 

Adding $47,666 to the municipality’s COVID-19 safe restart grant budget for non-profit groups was recommended at a Committee of the Whole meeting Nov. 10. Council is to vote on the budget change and six additional grant approvals at its Nov. 17 meeting (after Coast Reporter’s deadline).  

Council has latitude to look at a program budget increase, director of finance David Douglas told the committee. He said that $1.55 million, representing more than half of the money provided to Sechelt to address the operational and fiscal effects of the pandemic, remains unspent. That provincial funding, awarded in late 2020, totalled $2.5 million.  

Earlier this year, Council committed $100,000 of those funds to establish its grant program for groups providing core community services to vulnerable populations and groups affected by the pandemic. In an initial round of approvals in July, the municipality awarded $82,766 to 11 projects.  

The balance available for grants from the second intake of applications was $17,234. According to a staff report reviewed at the meeting, eligible groups sent in 10 round two submissions that met the basic program criteria. Those requests totalled $108,325.

In discussing the new applications, Coun. Matt McLean raised the suggestion of adding to the program’s budget.  “There were a big number of high-quality applications for this grant. That shows that there is a lot of good community programing in Sechelt,” he said. Explaining that in his pre-meeting preparation, he reviewed the submissions and ranked them based on program criteria, he proposed that the committee recommend partially funding those that made the “top five” on his list. 

“The housing rental crisis is of paramount community concern,” he stated in recommending an award of $25,000 to the Sunshine Coast Affordable Housing Society to assist with its operating costs. The group had applied for $35,000. McLean said he based his recommended grant value on a previous award to the group from the Sunshine Coast Regional District. The committee agreed with his recommendation. It also agreed that Council be asked to use its discretion to exceed the grant limit of $10,000 per project to fund this initiative. 

The councillor also recommended funding the Salvation Army’s request for help with the purchase of a passenger van for delivery and outreach services. The vehicle would also be used to transport those in need to drop-in programs and its cold weather shelter, located in Gibsons. That group had asked for $20,000. McLean suggested that $10,000 be awarded in keeping with the grant policy and the committee supported making that recommendation. 

The committee also supported three additional grant recommendations introduced by McLean. This included $10,000 in grant funding for the wages of the volunteer program lead and assistant at Sunshine Coast Community Services Society. That same amount was recommended for a grant to help cover the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre’s costs for upgrading of its online resources, as well as front line staffing. An application from Sunshine Coast Hospice Society for $8,500 to provide bereavement counselling for vulnerable clients and client care packages that were created as a COVID response received the committee’s endorsement.

Adding to McLean’s grant recommendations, Mayor Darnelda Siegers and Coun. Brenda Rowe spoke in support of the Sechelt Downtown Business Association’s application for $1,400 to buy raingear for volunteers in its business engagement ambassador project.  Siegers noted that “the businesses in the downtown really appreciate the work that is being done” in this litter collection and clean-up program. She explained that many of the volunteers are either homeless or in supportive housing and do not have funds to buy the gear needed to work outdoors.  

The committee added that project to the second-round grant recommendations being forwarded for Council consideration.