The municipality of Hastings Highlands awarded thousands of dollars in funding to charitable and non-profit community organizations at their May 18 council meeting. This funding was disbursed through the Hastings Highlands miscellaneous grant program, which they’d budgeted for in the 2022 budget. With 15 applicants requesting a total of $21,170 in funding, and only $7,500 available, council’s decision was not easy but after two delegations and much discussion, they ultimately decided on what they felt were fair amounts to award to the asking organizations.
The Miscellaneous Grant Program’s goal is to provide grant funding in the total amount of $7,500 to charities and not for profit community groups to enable new and improved programs to benefit residents of Hastings Highlands. David Stewart, the municipality’s treasurer, says that the program was approved by council back in 2015 as part of the budget planning process. According to deputy treasurer Tanya Dickinson’s report to council, the program was available for download on the Hastings Highlands website on April 10 and was advertised on the municipality’s website, social media and in the local newspapers. By May 6, 15 applications had been received, with requests for funding totalling $21,170.
Through the course of the meeting, council determined what amounts to award the applicants. Organizations that sought over $1,000 gave a presentation to council to make their case for their monetary request. The North Hastings Community Fish Hatchery was one of these organizations, and had requested $7,500. In previous years, they’d been granted $1,500 (2021), $1,050 (2019) and $1,365 (2018).
NHCFH’s vice president Kim Stephens presented to council and told them about what the NHCFH did; raising local fish and restocking local lakes with that fish once it had matured. She said that since 2007, they had restocked 110,000 lake trout and 15,000 brook trout into local lakes, which did not include the 2022 stocking numbers as they’d not been finalized yet. She said that they restocked quite a few lakes in Hastings Highlands, and had stocked over 31,000 fish into the municipality’s lakes, representing 25 per cent of all hatchery stocking since 2009.
“As we know, people love to fish in Hastings Highlands, and angling is a huge economic driver in the region. So, sustaining local fisheries is integral to supporting local tourism spending in the area,” she says.
Stephens said the annual cost on average of restocking fish in Hastings Highlands was $17,500, and that the NHCFH was asking for $7,500. While council lauded the efforts of the hatchery, with only so much to go around to all the applicants, they decided to grant $1,300 to the NHCFH.
Peterson Pathfinders Snowmobile Club was the second applicant to present as they had requested $5,000. They had gotten $900 from the program in 2019.
PPSC’s vice president Roger Davis gave a presentation to council on why they had requested funding from the municipality. They wanted to do substantial brushing on the E109 snowmobile trail from the junction at Hwy 517 to Hwy 62. The section of trail they were asking for funding to improve was in Hastings Highlands, and Davis said it was in bad shape and needed to be widened to clear it enough for the brusher to work properly and for the trail to be groomed for full enjoyment.
“We need to keep this trail in decent shape to make it an enjoyable riding experience for snowmobilers that come to our area, as this is a connector trail from Lake St. Peter to Barry’s Bay to Madawaska, Whitney and back to Bird’s Creek again,” he says.
Davis says that hundreds of people enjoy the trail throughout the season and that it’s a boon to the local economy in terms of fuel, food and lodging.
“These riders come from the Greater Toronto Area and beyond for the good sledding experience and that’s what we need to supply so they’ll return again and again,” he says.
Davis finished by telling council they were a volunteer-based club with many of them being retired senior citizens. As a result, many of them were physically unable to do the manual labour themselves to keep up the trails, which is why they request help to adhere to their goal of providing a great riding experience to tourists and residents in the area. Council subsequently awarded the PPSC $1,000.
Council then discussed the other requests for funding from the remaining applicants, all of which were for $1,000 or less. Bancroft Area Stewardship Council is an incorporated not for profit organization that engages, educates and empowers its communities by managing, protecting and preserving the environment. In previous years, they had gotten $950 (2019) and $750 (2018). While they had requested $1,000, council ultimately awarded them $500.
The Maynooth Senior Pickleball Group is for seniors in Maynooth to participate in Pickleball, which combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong, is played on a badminton sized court indoors or outdoors, with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes. It can be played in singles or doubles, and is appropriate for all ages and skill levels. Matheson said it was the fastest growing sport for seniors in America, and that it promoted health and social benefits for seniors in Hastings Highlands. They had asked for $1,000, and council gave them that amount.
School Council Maynooth Public School were the parents active at their kids’ school who were seeking money to replace playground equipment for the schoolyard for students’ enjoyment and betterment. Hagar also noted that the equipment would be enjoyed by all kids in the community, not just the students at the school. They had requested $1,000 from council, and they were awarded $1,000.
The Porterville Dart League in Lake St. Peter is a group of seniors that enjoy darts in the Lake St. Peter community, according to council. They had previously received $750 in 2021. They had asked for $950, and council ultimately gave them $200.
The Maple Leaf Snow Skimmers maintain over 300 kilometres of trails in the Bancroft region for snowmobilers. Council thought they were a wonderful volunteer group that does a lot for Hastings Highlands, making a positive impact and bringing in more revenue. They normally fundraise but that wasn’t possible due to COVID-19. They had requested $900 this year, and council subsequently awarded them $800.
Mineral Capital Concerts Committee is responsible for the Mineral Capital Concerts, which bring local artists and those from farther afield to play at Bancroft’s Millennium Park every year. Council praised the efforts of the committee to bring the arts, specifically music to the community each year. They had gotten $450 back in 2019. They had asked for $750 this year but were awarded $400.
Algonquin Arts Council has fostered and coordinated cultural activities in North Hastings and surrounding areas since 1978. They had gotten $400 back in 2019, and had requested $500 for this year. Council awarded them $300.
North Hastings Community Trust works with the community to provide emergency and sustainable solutions to poverty in North Hastings. This is specifically for their Wood Share program, which helps those less fortunate procure emergency firewood to heat their homes over winter. They had asked for $500 this year and got that amount from council.
Transition Town Maynooth is part of the worldwide transition movement, and was started back in 2018. They aim to build community resilience to things like climate change and economic crisis through the organization of grassroots initiatives. This application is for their community waste and not swap shop initiative to reduce waste in Hastings Highlands from going to the landfill. They had requested $450 and council subsequently awarded them $400.
Hastings Highlands Interlake Association were asking for $270 to hold an all candidates meeting for prospective council members so the community can meet and speak with them to make informed choices on their governance. They had one in 2018 that had been very well received. Hagar supported this bid, noting that the Interlake Association did a lot of great work outside of municipal governance, getting a lot of information out to their partnerships and members. Council awarded them $250.
The Lake St. Peter Property Owners’ Association had gotten $200 in 2018, $200 in 2019 and $250 in 2021. For the past 29 years, they’ve been doing their annual cleanup along the roads in Hastings Highlands in May and did a great job as usual. They were requesting funds to have a follow-up barbecue and give out gift certificates to their volunteers to thank them for a job well done. Council supported this ask and awarded them $250.
North Hastings Music Festival had gotten $100 in 2018 and in 2019. Council said it had been around for over 50 years, and many of them had fond memories of it. It is still organized by volunteers and allows the young people that participate to flourish in their music education and their aspirations. For this year, they had requested $100 and council awarded them $100.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times