Huron East Council to review grant policy - Feb. 14, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
At its Feb. 5 meeting, Huron East Council approved its annual roster of grants, but not before some small changes were made and larger ones were suggested for the future.
Council approved $18,570 in grants to local organizations with little debate, just under its annual grant budget limit of $20,000, however, Councillor John Lowe suggested evening up two grants to ensure equal treatment among communities.
Historically, the Seaforth Lions Club had received $2,000 for its Santa Claus parade, while the Brussels Santa Claus parade had only received $500. Lowe felt it was time that disparity came to an end and suggested increasing the Brussels grant by $500 and reducing the Seaforth grant by $1,000 for an even $1,000 to each parade.
Lowe said that it was his understanding that the extra money for Seaforth was generally used to book bands for the celebration. However, he said, perhaps if Brussels was able to book bands with some extra money it could improve its standing as a parade as well, adding that it only made sense that the two communities received the same amount of money from the municipality.
Council approved the change with little discussion.
However, the big change being discussed would be a drastic overhaul to the grant structure altogether.
Mayor Bernie MacLellan wondered aloud whether the municipality should be in the business of granting taxpayers’ dollars to charitable organizations. While there are some annual grants that are operational in nature for committees of council, he wondered if others weren’t “double-dipping” by charitable organizations that are, at the same time, asking residents for donations throughout Huron East.
He compared the situation to that of Huron County Council in recent years, saying that for years the county didn’t grant any funds until one organization came forward and asked. Council granted the funds and then, steadily, he said, year after year the county was receiving more grant requests and often looking upon them favourably.
As time went on, MacLellan said, grant requests grew larger and more numerous and the county began to get a reputation as a granting organization for worthy causes. MacLellan said this became a problem because “everyone has a good story” and it became tough for council to turn away those looking for grants for worthy causes. However, there were some grants approved by the county in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and it just wasn’t an effective use of taxpayers’ dollars.
Several Huron East councillors, however, said that with Huron East having a $20,000 cap on grants, they didn’t envision that problem arising at the local level and MacLellan agreed, but felt that a staff review of the grant policy ahead of the 2020 intake would be a good move. Council agreed and asked for a staff report on the grant policy later this year ahead of the 2020 grant intake.
Grants approved for 2019 are: Brussels Agricultural Society – Brussels Fall Fair, $1,000; Brussels Horticultural Society, $500; Brussels Santa Claus Parade, $1,000; Ethel Minor Ball, $500; Huron Centennial Public School – graduation awards; $40; Huron County Farm and Home Safety Association, $250; Huron Perth Agriculture and Water Festival, $250; Huron Plowmen’s Association, $250; Clinton Lions Club – Lions Park, $1,000; Seaforth Lions Club – Santa Claus parade, $1,000; Seaforth Lions Club – pool, $7,500; Maitland Bank Cemetery, $400; Royal Canadian Legion – Hensall, $55; Royal Canadian Legion – Remembrance Day Seaforth/Brussels, $100; Seaforth Agricultural Society – Fall Fair, $1,000; Seaforth Food Bank – hall rental, $375; Seaforth Horticultural Society $550; St. Columban Soccer, $500; St. John Ambulance, $250; Van Egmond Foundation, $1,000; Walton Area Sports Club, $500; Winthrop Ball Park, $500.