It’s Monday J(ournalism) day, and today we mixed a little traditional with some modern twitterisms. That is, we went out and got some story scoops – posting our progress to Twitter through #storymonday. It’s been a fun day of gallivanting through the streets of Winnipeg, and here I am with a final story on the new community renovation grant program up for review by city council.
More fun with more funds
Mayor Sam Katz hopes to make good this week on a long-standing campaign promise.
The community renovation grant program, a $1.2 million initiative to provide more funding to Winnipeg’s community centres, will be up for consideration by his peers next month.
“A lot of our community centres are old and they definitely need a lot of upgrading,” said Marlene Amell, executive director for the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres.
The general council includes 64 volunteer-run community centres, and administers all city funding to grant applicants who meet the criteria.
Fifteen per cent of city land sales will be dedicated to the new program, with an additional $470,000 provided by the land operating reserve.
“The criteria is based on need, that’s the No. 1,” said Amell, adding that community centres in high risk neighbourhoods are higher on the list and that the general council does “run out of dollars.”
Coun. Thomas Steen, who is responsible for youth and recreation services, also feels the pinch when it comes to funding community centres.
“We’ve been working hard with community centres to get them busier, it’s important for youth to be busy – and busy with modern things,” said Steen, who wants to see upgrades to older centres and acknowledges that city funding is “very limited.”
“We have more ideas than we have money,” said Steen.
Each program application is capped at $50,000; but for some, that may not be enough to bring substantial change.
“A million dollar fund is not at the level it needs to be,” said Scott Donald, vice president of sports at Park City West Community Centre, adding that the increased funding will help cover basic maintenance costs.
Park City West applied for an unrelated grant to cover expenses for a new floor and kitchen cabinets – the total bill coming to approximately $30,000. This is only a portion of the budget for a proposed expansion at the community centre, in the ballpark of eight to ten million dollars.
“The city of Winnipeg either needs to fund community centres or shut them down – but don’t starve them,” said Donald.
A report on the community renovation grant program will be reviewed and decided on Wednesday, February 1 by the executive policy committee, and taken to a final council vote on Wednesday, February 22.