Frustration over ‘Canada 150’ grant to White Rock

Councillors say the uses of some $101,000 received should have been scrutinized by elected officials during the application process

A federal grant to White Rock – aimed at helping the city's celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday next year – has raised procedural questions over the application process.

The City of White Rock has received more than $100,000 in federal grant money to host celebrations commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday next year, but the application process has left at least one city councillor “troubled.”

News of the grant was announced by the city’s director of recreation and culture services Eric Stepura, who said last week that the committee – made up of staff and community members – chose to submit a ‘Canada 150’ grant based on three potential events: a waterfront regatta, a family-oriented celebration and an original play about the history of White Rock.

“We had our reservations in terms of whether or not we’d get anything,” Stepura said at the May 30 council meeting, before announcing that the city was approved for $101,000 out of a requested $138,000.

However, Coun. Lynne Sinclair said she had concerns with the process by which the grant application was put together, wondering why council had not been asked to weigh in on the proposed events.

“I’m a little troubled by the process. At some point, this should have come to us,” Sinclair said.

“We’re getting government money, so where was the government scrutiny on this end?”

Sinclair asked if the city had “any latitude” to revise the events, to which Stepura responded that because the funding was provided based on the three planned celebrations, there was not much opportunity to make changes.

“We are permitted to drop some of the existing things,” Stepura said. “Possibly one of the things we could look at doing is dropping the regatta, or downsizing some of the existing events.”

Coun. David Chesney said there were a “number of questions” that needed addressing about the celebrations, noting he’d “like to be able to discuss it at length with my fellow council members.”

Chesney tabled a motion to send the matter to the finance and audit committee, where council members could discuss it further.

Coun. Helen Fathers voted against the motion, noting concerns that any changes to the plans could impact the grant funding.

 

Sinclair tabled a subsequent motion – carried unanimously – for the governance and legislation committee to look at creating a grant-application policy.

 

 

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