Volunteer service scores early grant

Budget discussions slated for March 9, April 6 and April 13

Oak Bay Volunteer Services received a boost to its grant in aid from council, receiving $25,000 up front, the same amount approved for the organization last year.

The additional $10,000 requested heads for budget discussions alongside a handful of other requests.

Grants in aid are generally shifted to budget discussions, however Coun. Eric Zhekla suggested they have a look at the volunteer organization, as it’s in dire need of funding this year.

The society issued a public plea in January after facing funding challenges.

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The organization secured $45,590 in revenue (endowment earnings $22,210, United Way $15,000 and Island Health $8,380). However other than Island Health, the secured funding does not arrive at the start of the fiscal year and the United Way grant is distributed monthly.

An Oak Bay Volunteer Services Fund held by the Victoria Foundation provides secured endowment earnings – half in April and the other half in November. Many grant decisions, such as gaming grants, are made during OBVS’s year of operation. This, added to a lack of bequests last year, created a difficult cash flow situation.

Mayor Nils Jensen suggested council could award a grant the same as last year, and then discuss any overage during budget talks (Estimates).

Council agreed to award a $25,000 grant and discuss the further $10,000 at Estimates.

Coun. Tara Ney will also work with the society to look into liaising with Better at Home, a provincially funded program that currently offers 10 Oak Bay residents light housekeeping.

The group came looking to expand last November. Better at Home helps seniors age-in-place, providing non-medical, non-personal care, day-to-day tasks in a mix of fee-for-service and volunteer work. That includes minor repairs, yard work and friendly visits in more than 70 communities around the province. Funding is provided by the province and disbursed through United Way on the Lower Mainland.

Oak Bay Volunteer Services offers most of those programs to the community already.

Better at Home wants to expand beyond light housekeeping in Oak Bay to offer grocery shopping, transportation and friendly visiting by volunteers. Organizers told council late last year that  would include an $11,000 Oak Bay portion of the $40,000 budget for 2016.

Other requests to council for grants include: Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week (request for $2,000), Atomique Productions – City of Victoria Canada Day celebrations ($1,000), Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society ($3,000), Oak Bay Music Society ($1,000), Maritime Museum of British Columbia($2,000) and Oak Bay Community Artists ($300).

The requests will all be part of the Estimates (budget) discussions slated for March 9, April 6 and April 13 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.