Saanich trims back community grants

Coun. Susan Brice says Saanich cannot afford to get into areas outside its municipal mandate.

A wide range of organizations, some prominent, others less well known, failed to receive financial support from Saanich.

They include organizations that support refugees, the homeless and victims of sexual assault.

Council considered their requests earlier this month during budget hearings dealing with community social service grants. With $535,000 budgeted, council approved grants totalling $477,534 from applicants who fell into three categories: previously funded applications, previously unfunded applications and matched community grants.

All of the rejected requests fell into the second category: previously unfunded applications.

Coun. Susan Brice said many of those requests fall into the category of health, education and other social services, areas outside the responsibilities of Saanich.

“I don’t think that this is an area that we should venture into,” she said. “It’s outside of our mandate.”

She specifically singled out a $500 request from the Lakehill Preschool.

“We have preschools throughout the area,” she said. “I fully support them, but yikes, this is not appropriate for this municipal budget.”

Coun. Vicki Sanders – like other members of council – praised the agendas of these groups, but warned that funding them now would see them return for more funding the next year.

Mayor Richard Atwell also warned that funding these groups would actually encourage provincial downloading.

“Sadly, that is a sad situation, but that is certainly a slippery slope,” he said.

Previously funded groups also had to make due with less. The Goward House Society for example asked for $35,000, but received $20,000 in reflection of Saanich’s new agreement with the society, which sees the municipality pick up the society’s utility bills.