The city has approx. $130,000 budgeted yearly to fund non-profits that apply for grants. Each councillor is given a worksheet with the organization’s name, their program, and what they are requesting. Then those totals are combined, and a percentage is then given to the non-profit. When a councillor gives 0, it lowers the total funds greatly and affects the present and future operation of the organization. Each councillor should demonstrate trust & professional leadership without bias, standing behind and explaining the reason they give one nonprofit 0, even when there are enough funds to go around.
The city says they operate with full transparency, however, that is not true for these hidden worksheets. When brought up in council most agreed on there is nothing to hide, however, when we asked to see them, we were told we had to go through the freedom of information act, using up taxpayer funds to gain information that should be transparent. No councillor should be able to hide their allocation of grant funds away from the public eyes! You could be voting for a councillor who is giving your organization, that you support and work or volunteer for, a big 0, and it’s hidden.
These worksheets show taxpayers and community members our councillors’ values when voting, we have the right to know, who supports youth, seniors, or arts programming and who doesn’t. It shouldn’t be based on personal or favouritism or competitiveness with other groups, integrity. It all contributes to a healthy community, it is about trust for elected officials with power of who makes it and who doesn’t in the community. Leaders must be accountable to the community for their decisions.
There is no reason to give zero to an at-risk, underprivileged, vulnerable youth organization, especially one that has been a cornerstone in our community for 27 years. It requires community support, teamwork, hard work, and financial responsibly. We see our glass half full, but we can’t operate on water.
Ask to see who is supporting your organization, ask for sheets to be posted on the website, you could be voting for a councillor or mayor giving you zero dollars.
Bev Middlebrook, on behalf of Spark Society for Youth 1994- present