With 27 applications and almost $145,000 in requests, this year the Town of the Blue Mountains' (TBM) grants and donations program has received its largest ask to date.
“Out of the years we've been a council, these requests are the highest I've seen at $144,000, including subsidies over almost $120,000,” said TBM councillor Peter Bordignon at a council meeting held earlier this week.
“That just shows you how hard the community is being hit and how much help they do need,” he continued.
TBM’s grants and donations program allows community groups and organizations to apply for financial or in-kind support. The program aims to streamline the process for subsidies and donations given out annually by the town and has been run for the past 14 years.
In 2019, TBM council decided to move the program out of the annual budget and into a fundraising model. In 2020, the committee held its first fundraising event.
However, as 2020 progressed, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
And, as the community began to cope with the realities of the pandemic, the grants and donations committee made the decision to accept additional applications in June and October from organizations who could assist the town in providing COVID-19 support to the community, such as the meal program that was developed through St. George’s Anglican Church.
Through that process, $18,000 in grant money was distributed at that time to the Beaver Valley Outreach, Hospice Georgian Triangle Foundation and St. George’s Anglican Church.
Now, after a year of pandemic closures and not being able to hold in-person fundraising events, the committee has received a total of $144,260 in grants and subsidies requests. However, the program only has a balance of $34,718.55 available to distribute.
“We did raise some money, but not enough to be able to fill the coffers as much as we wanted to be able to meet the needs of the community and their requests” said TBM councillor Rob Sampson.
“We [the grants and donations committee] decided a fair way to deal with that would be to effectively reduce the individual requests, if at all possible, by the percentage amount of money that we had in the bank, and then keep a bit of a reserve for a secondary distribution,” Sampson explained.
Grant requests were received from a number of community groups including: the Big Brothers Big Sisters Grey Bruce; Blue Mountains Historical Society Board; Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation; Elora Environment Centre – Tree Trust; Events for Life; Rotary Club of Thornbury Clarksburg; Seniors Network; Special Olympics Thornbury; and St. George’s The Anglican Parish. The full list of grant applicants can be found in the staff report: FAF.21.049.
TBM’s grants and donations program also received three large asks from the Meaford Hospital Foundation, the Collingwood General Marine Hospital Foundation and the Marsh Street Centre, which council decided to address individually outside of the grants and donations program.
As the program was not able to fulfil all the asks from community groups, Sampson said the committee is currently planning to assess the situation and potentially roll out a secondary grant distribution period in the late summer, or early fall.
In an effort to raise additional funds, a Lobsterfest event is planned for July 3. The event will offer a drive-thru pick up option at the Beaver Valley Community Centre in Thornbury, as well as an outdoor dining option at the Beaver Valley Branch in Clarksburg –COVID-19 safety protocols permitting.
“We do have a Lobsterfest planned and we've had some great community donations from individuals and families so far,” said Bordignon. “We should have a great Lobsterfest and then we'd be looking at coming out again for a secondary call after the summertime to get some more money back to the community.”
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca