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Coalhurst approves new grant policy

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Coalhurst has a new policy in place for local project grants.

A draft Community Grant Program Policy was presented during Coalhurst town council’s regular Feb. 6 meeting.

The policy aims to allow for the town to support local programs, initiatives and events that promote social well-being, community togetherness, civic pride, economic growth and sustainability.

In December 2023, council had directed administration to review the Community Grant Program Policy and present a draft policy for discussion at a Committee of the Whole meeting before March 2024. At a Committee of the Whole meeting last month, council provided further details regarding its intent for a new policy to be drafted and feedback on similar community grant programs from other Alberta municipalities that were presented to council for information. 

Christy Henning, director of community development for the Town, said the intent was this would be a new policy, with the current community grant policy being rescinded once this passed.

“It’s not trying to finagle and update something. It’s starting fresh, starting clean,” said Henning. “The way it was drafted was based on the input that was provided by council.”

The draft policy is based on the existing community grants policy in town, along with similar programs in the communities of Strathmore, Diamond Valley, Beaumont and Medicine Hat.

However, some changes to the policy include two funding streams – one for micro-grants and another for major grants.

“Offering the opportunity for a micro-grant, especially when you’re looking at community engagement and trying to create these organic places for community members to gather and be together, we do have large community celebrations that being able to offer something where people can do that on a smaller level within their neighbourhoods can be quite unique and a little bit more effective at times. But then of course having the larger grant opportunities and making sure that we added in things like economic development initiatives, capital projects – those aren’t in the current policy we have here in Coalhurst.”

Other changes in the policy include allowing for ongoing intake of applications; support for minor capital projects and economic development initiatives; and the policy is intended to empower Coalhurst citizens to implement projects, programs and events which develop community leadership, foster deep cultural and social connections, and benefit the whole community.

Coun. Deborah Florence asked if they needed to have discretionary use under section 4.5 of the policy, as the policy was “quite clearly laid out”. Henning said it was included as they wanted to include future considerations that would greatly benefit the community but hadn’t been considered previously so it wasn’t in the policy. 

Florence also inquired about whether the policy had a weighted matric for council to determine a project’s eligibility. Mayor Lyndsay Montina voiced support for a matrix. Coun. Jesse Potrie said he was on the fence about a scoring matrix.

“Because it’s so broad reaching and we have two different streams, I’m wondering, I don’t know how a matrix would help us,” said Potrie. 

CAO Shawn Patience cautioned that scoring matrices tend to be “subjective” as people tend to score things they like higher. He floated the idea of a check-box matrix, where it would be a simple check if the project meets a criteria. Coun. Scott Akkerman voiced support for a checkbox matrix, as a project that met the criteria would be more “black and white”. 

Council passed a motion to approve the proposed Community Grant Program Policy (C-08), as presented, and rescind Community Grant Program Policy 00-01-28; and to direct administration to implement, announce and begin promotion of the new Community Grant Program Policy (C-08).

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