Surrey city council has unanimously approved $1,839,000 in city grants to be shared between 48 local not-for-profit and community organizations for 2021.
“Although that does sound like a lot, I believe it to be absolutely essential given the reduction in donations due to the pandemic,” Councillor Laurie Guerra said after Monday’s public hearing on the city budget.
“As the past president of a provincial non-profit organization I realize the need for not only private donations – which are down quite a bit this year due to the pandemic – but also the essential need for grants coming from particularly gaming and other sources again down quite a bit this year due to the pandemic.
“Each year year council provides support for local non-profit community based organizations through this city grants programs and this year I believe it’s vital to approve these grants,” Guerra said.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum split Crime Stoppers out of the mix because Councillor Linda Annis is its executive director. She was disconnected from the meeting for that part while council voted in favour of giving her organization a grant.
Before that was done, Annis concurred with Guerra that many not-for-profits are “going to be struck with no gaming funds this year, and as we know people are suffering financially so their propensity to be able to make donations is less.
“Some of the arts organizations revenue has been cut because they relied so heavily on their ticket or gate entries so I fully support these charities that are on the list, for this particular motion, to be funded,” Annis said.
Councillor Jack Hundial noted that the Port Kells Community Association didn’t make the cut and he wants this to be reconsidered “because they are in dire needs and they’re at the risk of actually shutting down.”
Surrey’s finance manager Kam Grewal said the “best course of action” would be for city staff to report back to council with options for consideration.
Mayor Doug McCallum said council might consider bringing the issue before a meeting on the Council Initiative Fund in the new year.
Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s manager of parks, recreation and culture said she’s met with Port Kells Community Centre, which is currently not open because of COVID-19 public health orders.
“We’re working with them to find a way to position them to be able to open and operate in a healthy manner once some of provincial health orders have been lifted,” Cavan told council. “They’re a very strong group, they’re very passionate and we’ve expressed that we want to work with them. We want them to be successful and we‘ll certainly find a way to do that but as you’ve indicated it may require us coming back to council with a proposal of how we can work with them to ensure they’re healthy long into the future.”
Meantime, Councillor Steven Pettigrew said he is pleased that city staff ensured that the grant recipients are Surrey-based.
“I’m pleased that staff has taken a slightly different direction than last year,” he said. “Last year I had concerns about the grants, that some of them were not Surrey based, and that was my comment that I’d like to see more Surrey-based grants and that’s been done. I look at all these grants and I think they’re appropriate, they’re looking after the people in the city.”
Grant recipients for 2021 are Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society, Surrey Sailing Club, Surrey Heritage Society, Panorama Ridge Riding Club, Lower Mainland German Shepherd Dog Club, Action BMX Association, Crescent Beach Swim Club, Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, South Surrey/White Rock Chamber of Commerce, Surrey Tourism and Convention Association, Surrey Crime Prevention Society, Crime Stoppers, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Lower Fraser Valley Exhibition, Cloverdale Rodeo, Cloverdale Curling Club, Community Events Policing, Sports Tourism, Community Enhancement Partnership Program, the Arts Council of Surrey, Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society, and Honey Hooser Scholarship and Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild, the Al Mustafa Academy Society, Backpack Buddies, Better Cause Society, Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC, Canadian Mental Health Association Vancouver-Fraser Branch, Cloverdale Community Kitchen, Crescent Beach Property Owners Association, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, Find Your Forte, Fraser Region Community Justice Association, Greater Vancouver Law Student’s Legal Advice Program, Moving Forward Family Services, Muslim Food Bank and Community Services, the Newton Business Improvement Association, the Pacific Community Resources Society, Pacific Post Partum Support Society, Pathfinder Youth Centre Society, PLEA Community Services Society of BC, SOS Children’s Village BC, St. Michael’s Anglican Church, Surrey Amateur Radio Communications, Surrey Christmas Bureau Society, Surrey Community Cat Foundation, and the You Wear it Well…Just for Grads Society.