Council debates $86,000 in charity requests
The City of Merritt administration and council reviewed 25 grant applications last week, approving at least 14 of the 25 requests.
Several other grants that contribute to the $86,000 in requests are still being decided. Nearly $31,000 was dedicated, with another $29,000 in limbo.
The most substantial request was for a $20,000 renovation grant to the Merritt Curling Centre. That funding will only be approved if the Curling Club receives a grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada for a reported $35,000.
Coun. Mike Goetz was the only naysayer in the motion, which he said needed more investigation before dedicating such a large amount.
“I’m not ready to spend $20,000 on someone else’s building,” he said.
The Curling Centre, which is on Mamette Avenue, was built from donations collected by members of the Merritt Curling Club, city officials said. However, the city owns the land under the building.
According to the city’s chief administrative officer Matt Noble, the community benefits from the buildings, but the ownership isn’t known.
“There is no question that this group provides a facility that most communities provide through the parks and rec department,” he said.
Coun. Dave Baker said prior to earmarking money to fund the centre that the matter is urgent.
“The roof is peeling off and falling onto the ice,” he said. “It’s in bad shape and this needs to be done.”
The most substantial grant free from conditions is for the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, which received nearly $7,000, about $900 of which is in-kind.
Council defeated a motion for about $12,000 for the Valley Visual Artists, the majority of which was for a proposal to rent a site near Spirit Square on Granite Avenue for studio space and workshops. However, the Community Policing Office is already in talks with the city to lease the property.
“Council is being given direction to accommodate the CPO,” Mayor Susan Roline said, “so for us to throw that plan out to accommodate this group wouldn’t be good right now.”
She said Valley Visual Artist’s application indicates $5,000 would go towards renovating a public building that they would rent.
“I don’t think that is good use of city dollars,” Roline said.
Coun. Alastair Murdoch said the request was vague and the city needs to learn more about the group.
“It has to be done in an intelligent manner,” he said. “We should leave this alone for the year and maybe we’ll have some extra funds at a later date.”
Other possible grants — such as almost $2,700 for the Merritt Country Christmas Committee —were put aside until more information is gathered. Council said the group has neglected to submit financial information over the last six years.
A $1,060 grant application for Nicola Family Therapy was rejected. The group recently received a $35,000 donation from Highland Valley Copper, and a “Mz. Judged” competition generated $10,000 from liquor sales, council said.