It was two yeses and a no/maybe as Woolwich councillors pondered three new requests for funding among the usual grants awarded by the township.
Councillors meeting in a special budget session Monday night agreed to provide one-time funding of $10,000 to the new Three Sisters Cultural Centre in St. Jacobs and $10,000 in relief funding for the Woolwich Seniors Association. Staff recommended declining a request for $7,500 from HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, but council opted to revisit the subject at the next budget meeting.
All told, the township is looking at allocating some $68,000 in grants as part of the 2022 budget.
The list includes many of the usual recipients, including $11,363 to Woolwich Community Services, the same amount for the WCS Youth Centre and that amount again for Community Care Concepts. The Woolwich Counselling Centre is to get $9,105, with $1,800 earmarked for the Historical Society of St. Boniface and Maryhill and $1,500 for the Elmira and District Horticultural Society.
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A couple of school-based grants – $2,250 for Cycling into the Future and $1,637 for the Waterloo Regional Police’s school safety patrol – have a pin stuck in them pending the return of programs on hold due to the pandemic.
Staff will be looking at perhaps reallocating funds to allow for a grant to HopeSpring, with Coun. Larry Shantz leading the charge to support the organization despite staff’s position.
“Staff recommend that the grant application be declined for the following reasons: the majority of their clients are not residents of the Township of Woolwich, and the centre is not located in the township,” said deputy clerk Ilidia Sa Melo.
Shantz, however, recommended using some of the school-based grants and perhaps the likes of council training funds to providing money to HopeSpring.
“It’s a good organization, and I’d like to recommend that we support it,” he said.
Where staff recommended an $8,500 grant to the seniors’ centre, the majority of councillors backed the full $10,000 requested by the group. The money will come from the township’s COVID relief fund rather than from the tax levy.
“They’re going to be in a worse position seeing that the WMC is closed. Their revenues are going to zero, which makes a tough situation tougher,” said Coun. Patrick Merlihan in supporting the $10,000 ask.
Coun. Murray Martin, who has previously questioned support for the seniors’ group, balked at providing more funding.
“I don’t know that I support giving the seniors more money – we gave them $14,000 last year,” he said. “I’m not sure why the seniors in this town are so hard done by.”
He suggested perhaps providing $5,000 to each of the three new requests, arguing HopeSpring provided the best argument for support.
With the Three Sisters Cultural Centre, council approved the $10,000 request for assistance with the organization’s inaugural event planned for March. The money will come from the municipal accommodation tax, an extra four per cent levied on hotels and similar short-term rental operations.
Coun. Fred Redekop noted the St. Jacobs BIA supports the request.
Councillors are expected to revisit the grants issue at the next special budget session, scheduled for tonight (Thursday).