When grant applications enter the budget meeting process in Oak Bay there could be policy in place to help make the decisions easier. A working group of Coun. Kevin Murdoch, Coun. Tara Ney and parks and recreation commission member Linda Allen brought back its report for council to peruse while sitting as committee.
The grants policy is aimed to provide guidance for organizations considering applying for a grant as well as council in determining the selection of recipients.
The working group found that grants should align with the goals of the Official Community Plan and Oak Bay council’s strategic priorities. Grants should promote community wellness, vitality and spirit, improve the quality of life, and address community needs. Grants should primarily benefit Oak Bay residents. Events, programs and other services should take place primarily within the District of Oak Bay boundaries. Grants should not subsidize services normally funded by other levels of government, nor should they fund organizations already funded through the CRD.
Preference should be given to: local organizations that require funding help for a project, program or event that prioritize services in Oak Bay; and that support substantial volunteer services and one-time grants over recurring grants.
Coun. Tom Croft feels an applicant should be required to have official society status as part of the requirements.
“That should be one of the acid tests we use,” he said.
Murdoch said they had discussion on that topic, but found it would be too limiting to smaller groups that do good works in Oak Bay.
“Value to the community is still there, even if they haven’t gone through that (Society Act process),” he said.
Ney said they reviewed past applications and who such a requirement might have excluded previously.
“We were looking to not be onerous for the grassroots community group that makes a really good contribution,” she said.
The criteria suggest an applicant should demonstrate broad community interest and support, and the majority of funds should be from sources other than the District of Oak Bay. Any significant arts-related grants should align with the priorities and goals of the parks and recreation commission, as well as the public art policy of the District of Oak Bay.
Other criteria provide that grants: should not be used to fund operational costs of organizations, with a possible exception made in the case of charitable organizations based in, and servicing the residents of, the District of Oak Bay; should not be provided to individuals and should not be applied for retroactively.
Work on the grant application process dates back to 2012 – to establish open and transparent guidelines for the evaluation and distribution of community grants – with a development of the grant application form by the Community Initiatives Committee.
That form was used by applicants this year, and includes a segment on how previous money allotted was used, an issue that came up during the committee meeting discussing the criteria.
In 2014 a total of $170,955 was paid out in grants to various organizations. Grants are part of the budget meeting process, or estimates committee, which starts deliberations March 26 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.