Councillors concerned about lack of grants for local groups

News the Scarecrow Festival, May Days and even the Kelowna Women’s Centre won’t benefit from a city grants program this year has ruffled the feathers of a few Kelowna city councillors.

Robert Hobson

News the Scarecrow Festival, May Days and even the Kelowna Women’s Centre won’t benefit from a city grants program this year has ruffled the feathers of a few Kelowna city councillors.

And on Monday, the news prompted questions from councillors about the system set up to address funding decisions.

“May Days effects thousands, and we’re not funding it, and I have a concern about it,” said Coun. Graeme James, after learning which local organizations would benefit from arts, cultural and heritage grants this year from a representative of the Central Okanagan Foundation.

Some groups, like the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, he pointed out, also received funding from the Professional Arts Grants program and that double dipping didn’t seem right when Rutland community groups came out empty-handed. That, he said, shows fault in the city’s process for granting funds.

While James honed in on Rutland’s losses, numerous other organizations didn’t make the cut either, including the Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre. And that “miffed” Coun. Charlie Hodge.

Leanne Hammond Komori, executive director of the Central Okanagan Community Foundation, explained that the amounts requested totalled $177,000, while just under $100,000, was up for grabs.

That disparity means the person brought in to look at grant applications has to be judicious and all applications have to be up to snuff if they’re going to succeed.

“It’s difficult for the group,” she said. “There’s not enough to cover the asks …having said that, however, the process is quite thorough and grant applications are reviewed on their own merits.”

All councillors agreed the foundation’s work is thorough and Coun. Robert Hobson said the process was the best choice at hand.

“It’s our budget, our taxes, and I think we can ask for a reason why things aren’t being funded,” he said.

“I like the process we set in place, if we have broad policy questions I think we can discuss those, but I like the hands off approach we’re taking.”