Council approves grant-in-aids boosting tourism; nix school trips, construction projects

By on January 29, 2018
(Herald file photo).

It was déjà vu for many returning grant-in-aid applications while half of all new ones were turned down by Merritt city council for 2018.

Council doled out more than $49,000 in grant requests, approving funds for 21 of 28 applications it received from local non-profits and community groups on Jan. 17 at the first of many budget meetings over the next few months.

The grants, either partial or in full, help fund services or programs that benefit the community as a whole. Many given the green light this year aim to support tourism in the Nicola Valley.

Council approved two sponsorship grants worth a combined $6,500 to the High School Rodeo Association of BC in support of the 2018 High School Rodeo Finals in Merritt. The group had sought a total of $7,500.

The three-day event is expected to bring more than 200 participants to Merritt this summer.

“It’s a huge, huge rodeo,” association representative Fritz Maier told council. “It makes our hometown rodeo look small.”

A staff report from the finance department accompanying the applications noted the rodeo will have a positive impact on local business.

The Canadian Country Music Heritage Society was given $1,500 to support purchasing a travelling kiosk that will be used to promote the city and its country music attractions.

“I’m really in favour of doing something we take on the road to show people,” Coun. Diana Norgaard told her fellow councillors.

The Logger Sports Show is entering its third year in Merritt and council approved sending $4,000 out of a requested $5,500 to the local chamber of commerce, which hosts the event, to support the show once again.

The staff report recommended partially funding the request given the economic benefits of the event to restaurants and hotels.

Council, however, did not go along with a new application from the chamber for $7,000 to support its creation of a business revitalization group.

“I believe it’s the downtown merchants that need to do this, not for somebody to organize them into it,” Coun. Kurt Christopherson said at last Wednesday’s meeting.

The group’s goal is to maximize revenue opportunities for downtown businesses from events held by other organizations such as the Rockin’ River Musicfest.

The staff report recommended approving a partial grant to kickstart the project.   

Downtown developments, educational initiatives denied

It wasn’t a fortunate meeting for a few development-related applications and a pair of educational initiatives.

The largest grant request on the list was a $66,000 ask from Merritt Youth and Family Resources Society (MYFRS) daycare to aid its construction of its new downtown location.

Council denied the request and staff recommended not supporting it as the facility would be in direct competition with other daycares in town.

The application asked the city to waive some development fees to aid the project.

The Elks Lodge was denied an $11,000 ask to help the group pay for a renovation to the 100-year-old building’s front porch despite the staff report recommending the approval of a partial grant for this initiative.

The Royal Canadian Legion requested $15,000 to pay for about half of a new facade to its downtown facility, but received no support from council either.

Coun. Christopherson questioned the validity of these two grant requests, noting the city’s grant-in-aids are for programs and services in the community interest, and doesn’t cover capital projects.

“There’s tons of buildings in this town that could use an upgrade. This isn’t the place,” he said of the Legion’s request.

Students from Collettville Elementary will have to look elsewhere to fund a trip to Quebec after council denied their request for $3,000.

Coun. Norgaard made a motion to provide the school $1,000 of the $3,000 it requested, but the motion did not have the full support of council.

The staff report advised against approving this grant, noting that council has not historically funded school trips, but did recommend approving a field trip for students of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, which council also opted not to support.

The post secondary institution requested $5,000 to help pay for a field trip to Haida Gwaii as part of its training curriculum. The staff report stated what is learned on the trip may have longer term impacts on resource management in Merritt.

Arts council, community garden funded again

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council received the funding it needs from the city to be eligible for a matching BC Arts Council grant. This year, however, the group received more than $8,000 total.

In addition to a $5,000 grant to obtain matching funds, council is also supporting arts council events this year with $3,400 to put towards art shows such as Art Walk and Art in the Park.

“This organization has been coming to us for a long time for funds and in the past year they have done some amazing things,” Coun. Dave Baker said at the meeting. “Typically I would not go for this total amount, but I want to see that ball keep rolling and if we can help them out I want to continue doing it.”

For the second consecutive year the Nicola Valley Community Gardens Society received a $1,300 grant to help develop its community garden.

“I am going to support this [because] this is another that has been going on now for three years and they’ve done nothing but move in the direction of straight up,” Coun. Baker said.

Society representative Joleen Morrison told council they are open to starting a second garden downtown, and are currently trying to expand its current garden located behind the hospital.


The grants that received council’s favour will still need to receive final approval at a regular council meeting in the near future.

See below for a complete list of grant application results from the Jan. 17 meeting.

A list of all community initiative and short-term funding grants presented to council at this year’s grant-in-aid meeting. (Photo courtesy of City of Merritt)


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