The District of Sooke has eliminated a fund supporting community organizations as it struggles with diminishing revenues against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis. (Pixabay)

COVID-19: Sooke eliminates community grants program for 2020

‘We need to find savings for our constituents and our community rights now,’ mayor says

The District of Sooke has eliminated a fund supporting community organizations as it struggles with diminishing revenues against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.

The community grants program was set at $65,000 this year, and the 31 request for funds exceed the budget by $96,784.60.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait urged councillors at the April 14 council meeting to cancel the grants program for 2020, with a possibility of bringing it back in 2021.

RELATED: Busy year brings record results for Victoria Foundation and local charities

RELATED: B.C. business, local governments get further tax relief

“We need to find savings for our constituents and our community rights now.” she said.

“I’m struggling with community grant program. This is taxpayers dollars and our community and residents are in a crisis.”

Several councillors looked at the possibility of reworking the program to focus it toward COVID-19 relief projects, with grants going to organizations such as the Sooke Food Bank, but changed their views when hearing Tait’s plea.

Coun. Tony St-Pierre, who voted against cancelling the program, presented the idea of revamping it towards easing the burden of the pandemic.

“I like the idea of a COVID grant process,” he said. “I accept the fact we have a lot people in rough shape. Providing money to community groups to help those having hard time is a better way of leveraging our tax dollars,” he said.

Tait said it would be unfair to put a COVID emphasis on grant applications.

“We would need to create an entirely different grant program focused on COVID-19. It would be complete restart to the program.”

Coun. Ebony Logins said many groups receiving funding from the district also receive money from other organizations, such as the Victoria Foundation and the United Way.

The Victoria Foundation raised $1 million over the last month for COVID-19 relief, and donated $40,000 to the Sooke Food Bank and $10,000 to the Sooke Family Resource Society’s rapid relief fund.

Sooke municipal staff is also looking at other areas of the district budget that can be cut, including community service agreements, capital projects and purchases.

“We have to focus on what is essential to our community to get through this [pandemic],” Tait said.

“I think our community will expect us to make those decisions. So when it comes to essential services, it’s about keeping the waste water running, keeping our roads maintained, and keeping our parks safe.”



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CommunityCoronavirusSooke council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pub seeks 55-seat patio on Oak Bay Avenue

Oak Bay invites businesses to expand onto sidewalks, parking spots

Killing of Discovery Island wolf was legal, says BC Conservation Service

Takaya was shot and killed by hunters on March 24

B.C. Conservation kills bear in Langford amid growing problem of habituation

Officer demands garbage lockdown for residents in bear territory

Police enforce school zone speed limits as Greater Victoria students return to class

Saanich police on the lookout for speeders outside Glanford Middle School

PHOTOS: Greater Victoria School District reports 50 per cent of students back in class

Students are on a rotational schedule alternating two days a week

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Most Read