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County changes grant programs

Review eyed ensuring clear application process and administrative efficiencies

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – County council has approved amendments to the county grant policies. The update came during a recent regularly scheduled council meeting.

At the direction of council, administration recently reviewed all grant programs with the objectives to “ensure that the grant application process is as clear and easy for outside organization as possible, to maximize the value of county funding grant programs, and to identify administrative efficiencies.”

During the review, administration found a number of challenges with the current grant programs, including inconsistency between grant program policies and funding practices, some programs being over-subscribed while other are under-subscribed, some organizations apply to multiple grant programs, Chris Atchison, director of legislative services, told council.

As well, grants are sometimes approved by different bodies, such at the grant review committee, council or the agricultural service board, he said.

Administration made four major recommendations to address existing challenges.

One recommendation proposes to combine similar grants, which will allow flexibility to award funds to projects that will return the greatest benefit to county residents as some grant programs are often oversubscribed, and undersubscribed grant programs are less competitive, he said.

The change would help reduce the instances where organizations apply under multiple grant streams and various approving bodies, and will increase the flexibility for the county to adjust funding to grant programs in future years without rendering the grant program ineffective, he said.

The proposal would see rural community hall and playground grants combined under rural community halls grants.

Rural community grants and agricultural related project grants would be combined under rural community grants.

“Typically what we are seeing is organizations applying to both those streams for similar projects, and in our eyes the rural community grants has the ability to absorb those grant applications that would typically go through the ag related projects grant into the eligibility to go though the rural community grants,” he said.

“It would take away the second awarding body of the ASB (agricultural service board) versus the grant committee which would make sure that we don’t have organizations trying to apply to this grant and one hand not knowing what the other hand is doing for applications.”

It was recommended that cemetery grants be approved through the operating budget instead of through a grant application process. 

“Administratively we feel that it would be easier to administer if we just automatically paid the $1,000 to each cemetery and there wouldn’t be an application process for that. It would just be an operating budget administrative process that we would be undertaking,” he said.

Changes were also recommended to the crime prevention grant program.

“Right now we have our crime prevention grant program but we also have annual funding that goes out as well to rural crime watch,” he said. 

“The recommendation would be to combine the fundings for the crime prevention grant and no longer have the annual funding automatically to rural crime watch, but they would be eligible to apply under the grant program.”

Regarding the visitor experience funding awarded to visitor information centres, the recommendation is that, “This funding stream be reallocated towards internal costs to bolster Mountain View County specific tourism programs, which may include partnership with rural partners and that the grant program be eliminated.”

Council passed a motion accepting the recommended changes.

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