FCSS grants; winners and losers in council compromise

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

When you’ve got $23,000 to give away, and $55,000-worth of applications, there are some tough choices to be made. That’s what Slave Lake town council faced on June 9 in the latest round of Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) grant allocations.

The discussion started with a proposal from the FCSS director on who should get what, based on her assessment of eligibility and need. It proceeded by way of one councillor pushing back hard with a counter-proposal, and some wrangling with her colleagues. It ended with a compromise solution that sees six of the eight applicants getting something, and two getting nothing.

The big winner in the exchange was the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre. Councillor Rebecca King came out swinging in favour of that organization getting more than was recommended (which was zero). She pointed out that the town “relies on the Friendship Centre for a lot of things,” but doesn’t provide funds. She listed some of the programs, including the almost single-handed effort of the FC in dealing with the town’s homeless population.

“I would like to give them more than zero,” she said.

“What do you propose?” asked mayor Tyler Warman.

“Ten thousand,” said King.

The Friendship Centre had applied for $15,000, to help cover the cost of a volunteer coordinator. The other applications were as follows: Regional Arts Council ($3,500 for its summer art camp), Victim Services ($5,500 for a mental health workshop for first responders), Slave Lake Pioneers ($900 for a paint night), Lakeside Nursery School ($10,000 for increased staffing to help with special needs of children), Community Christian Centre ($8,600 for a youth drop-in centre), Caregivers Alberta ($1,594 for a course for caregivers) and the Wesleyan Church ($10,000 for a youth program called ‘INSPIRE’).

All of that added up to (as noted) over $55,000 and had to be pared down by more than half to match what was left in the FCSS grants account for 2019. The director’s proposal recommended the following: $2,250 for the arts council, zero for Victim Services, zero for the Friendship Centre $900 for the Pioneers, $5,000 for the nursery school, $8,600 for the youth drop-in centre project, $1,594 for Caregivers and $5,000 for the Wesleyan program, totaling $23,344.

King’s counter-proposal had the Friendship Centre getting $10,000, with the money coming by reducing what some of the others get. She said the nursery school can do more of its own fundraising. She is involved in another nursery school, she said, and it has done well by fundraising on its own. She added that the Friendship Centre also already does a lot of fundraising.

Councillor Shawn Gramlich pushed back a bit, saying the director’s work on the file ought to carry some weight. She added that early childhood intervention is very important.

King made a motion, nevertheless, to adjust the figures in favour of the Friendship Centre. Gramlich responded with a motion to amend those figures to allocate $1,500 to the nursery school. This was carried by a 4 – 2 vote, with King and Warman opposed. Council then passed the King motion, as amended.

The final numbers: Regional Arts Council – $2,250, Victim Services – zero, Friendship Centre – $8,850, Pioneers – $900, Lakeside Nursery School – $1,500, Community Christian Centre – $5,000, Caregivers Alberta – zero, Wesleyan Church – $5,000.

The Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.

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