Burns Wharf grants
At the last meeting of Assiginack council, council reviewed a report from project and events coordinator Jackie White on grant availability for work on the Burns Wharf. As has been reported previously, the Burns Wharf has been closed to the public for almost a year as it requires upgrades to meet the current requirements of the Ontario Fire Code and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Ms. White explained that she scrutinized over 20 grants that could be eligible for such a project. “My findings are showing that grants are now more directed for specific areas, and those grants tend to be smaller,” she wrote.
Ms. White focussed her attentions on FedNor, which narrows in on three priorities: community economic development (projects that will stimulate business development and investment and strategic planning); business growth and development (improve business capabilities); and innovation (increase the number of businesses). “Unfortunately, the theatre does not currently fall into any of these priorities,” she said.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation “has completely changed their focus and now has four streams of funding available,” Ms. White continued. They are: capital grants (up to $150,000 to improve community spaces that broaden access, improve community spaces and promote energy efficiency); seed grants (up to $75,000 to do feasibility studies and launch new ideas); grow grants (up to $250,000 to adapt a proven model); and collective impact grants (supporting a collective strategy and transformative action in partnership with the foundation to tackle complex community issues).
“Seed and capital grants will have four intake dates compared to three in the past so the turnaround time will be quicker, from 16 weeks to eight weeks,” Ms. White explained. The budget is still $3 million, therefore each round will be putting out less money due to the new four round model and different streams, which means not as much latitude. In the last round in November 2014, $7 million was applied for with only $1 million worth of funding available—thus only 20 percent of applicants were successful.”
“Based on my research, the Ontario Trillium Foundation is the only available grant at this time and I have been told that it is highly unlikely that we would receive the maximum amount should we be successful,” she continued. “They will also look at our community and will see the funding that has been directed to the Debaj theatre, as well as recognizing that the school (Assiginack Public School) is another viable option (for summer theatre). Their focus is not on the heritage of the building but rather the quantitative results the renovation would achieve. They are more concerned with more people experiencing the arts and culture, getting back to a real thrust in being able to quantify results and what significant changes will be brought about to meet that priority by receiving the grant.”
“I know this is not the news we were all looking for,” Ms. White addressed council.
“It’s rather lean, isn’t it,” said Councillor Leslie Fields.
“It is,” Ms. White replied.
Ms. White said the Trillium contact she once had has now disappeared and has been replaced with a call centre.
“They don’t care about the story behind the project, it’s all quantitative—’get rid of the fluff,’ I was told,” she said.
“This is disappointing,” said Councillor Hugh Moggy.
Reeve Paul Moffat asked if the amount of infrastructure dollars the Burns Wharf Theatre Players have put into the building (new lighting, seating, sound system and air conditioning) come into play.
“They said it politely, but basically said ‘well, so has everybody else’,” Ms. White responded. “The ‘fluff’ to me is really telling the story of our town—they took away the human aspect of that.”
“I’m certainly leery of how Assiginack will fare,” she added, noting the extra intake period.
“Larger municipalities have complained that the playing field wasn’t level,” CAO Alton Hobbs added, explaining that they felt that the majority of the grants were going to smaller municipalities.
Reeve and council thanked Ms. White for her report and decided to make their concerns about the change to Trillium funding known at the upcoming Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) conference.
Building Permit Report
Council received the 2014 building permit report from Gerry Strong, chief building official.
There were 22 permits issued last year with a total construction value of $1,136,684, bringing in building permit revenue of $13,609.74. Revenue is up by over $3,000 from 2013.
Accounts for payment
Council authorized $100,313.37 for general payments and $33,411.26, payroll.