County approves recreation policy amendments

Wheatland County council approved revisions to the Recreation Policy 14.4 Community Facilities Funding grant program, as well as approved the addition of $100,000 to its budget.

During the July 4 regular meeting, council discussed the Community Enhancement Regional Board (CERB) grant funding program, and how funds are allocated to Wheatland County community organizations, versus Village community organizations.

Administration at the time was directed to bring the CERB funding policy to a Committee of the Whole meeting for further discussion. That report was put forward Aug. 22, at which time, opportunities to strengthen recreation policies were discussed, and a revised draft was requested for consideration.

The revised draft, Recreation Policy 14.4, was presented before the Committee of the Whole, Dec. 12, 2023. Based on the Committee’s feedback, a final draft was prepared.

Recreation Policy 14.4 suggested adding funding support for an additional seven community facilities. County administration estimated funding eligibility to increase from six to 13 facilities.

The 2024 interim budget for the grant program was previously set at $208,000. The additional $100,000 approved to be allocated is to accommodate for anticipated increases in funding requests.

Coun. Glenn Koester asked during the discussion if there was a set application deadline from community organizations in order to be able to benefit from the available funding.

“Currently … we have had applications end at the end of March, and then we review them and bring them before council usually in April,” said Dave Rimes, community services coordinator with Wheatland County.

He added the application deadline has historically been based on when the policy receives approval by county council.

Further concerns expressed by Coun. Shannon Laprise and Coun. Tom Ikert were in regards to whether organizations applying for the Community Facilities Funding grant program would also be allowed to apply for additional CERB funding under different contexts.

Rimes explained CERB generally looks at grant funding to aid in the operating costs of community centres, and it would not be likely organizations would be able to benefit from grant funding in more than one circumstance.

Depending on application deadlines, organizations may submit more than one application, and staff overseeing the approval and distribution of CERB funding would consider applications on a case-by-case basis.

Coun. Scott Klassen motioned for council to approve the revised recreation policy 14.4 community facilities grant program, as well as to direct administration to amend the 2024 budget to accommodate the $100,000 allocation.

Council voted unanimously to pass both motions without further discussion.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times