Gibsons council is putting off the decision on grants of assistance after councillors said they didn’t have enough information to feel comfortable choosing which groups will get money.
The Town has $20,000 set aside for grants in 2019, and applications from community groups came in at nearly $30,000, leaving councillors in the position of having to make some tough decisions, especially if they want to have money left over to offer a second round of grants in the fall.
At the April 16 committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Stafford Lumley said he felt the current process for deciding on grants, especially having to debate them at an open meeting, is “really cumbersome and awkward.”
Coun. David Croal said one of the hardest questions for him to weigh is whether a group really needs the grant, and to give taxpayers some assurance that the grant money is being used wisely, especially in a year where the anticipated property tax increase is 7.5 per cent.
The grant requests, detailed in a 118-page staff report, range from $500 to support Active Transportation Month to $10,000 from the Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association to purchase a rink divider.
Last year council distributed $11,650 out of $20,000 in grant funding during a first round and held back $8,350 to use for applications that came in later in the year.
Coun. Aleria Ladwig told fellow councillors April 16 that she’s been meeting with local water taxi operators “to develop a logistically realistic and feasible proposal to support our letter to the Ministry of Transportation asking for subsidized water taxi service from the Sunshine Coast to serve the commuting community in particular.”
Ladwig said the information would be used to supplement a 2018 study on the feasibility of a passenger-only commuter ferry service, which was funded by the Sunshine Coast Regional Economic Development Organization. That study found a “strong requirement, especially at the beginning of service, for some kind of subsidy.”
The Town of Gibsons is hoping to convince the transportation minister to provide a subsidy for at least long enough to run a pilot project.
With Mayor Bill Beamish still hoping to meet with the Sea Cavalcade organizing committee about what sort of summer celebration to have in the town after the committee announced it would not hold a Cavalcade this year, there’s some debate about the role of fireworks.
The Town is keeping $16,000 in its budget for the fireworks display that usually happens in conjunction with Sea Cavalcade.
Coun. Annemarie De Andrade said April 16 that the time is right to rethink the idea of having a fireworks display, given the potential impact on animals and the environment.
“We talk about climate change, we talk about adaptation and mitigation and I think we need to start changing behaviour,” she said during a discussion of correspondence about fireworks from residents. “The fireworks is another example. It’s a great show, but at the same time there is so much impact… I would like council to be thoughtful about fireworks and anything we do from now on – we can do other activities, I’m sure.”
De Andrade suggested the Town consider alternatives like laser shows, and pyrotechnics displays without sound.
Beamish said the point was “well taken.”