The City of Duncan has turned down the latest four requests for funding from its COVID-19 grant program.
The city set up a grant program earlier this year in which it set aside $100,000 from its 2020 budget so that local organizations that are supporting businesses or individuals through the health crisis can apply for grants of up to $10,000.
City council gave the green light to the first three projects at its meeting on June 15, and denied two others.
The first application at the meeting on June 29 was from Volunteer Cowichan which was asking for a grant to supply non-medical masks for city residents.
The submission from Volunteer Cowichan said that if all the city’s citizens had access to masks during the pandemic, they would feel safer frequenting businesses and amenities in Duncan, which would boost the city’s economy and morale of the people.
But Coun. Tom Duncan said the wearing of masks is not mandatory at this time, and most people in the city are not wearing them.
“The object of the program is to support local businesses and individuals during the pandemic, but there is no legal requirement to wear masks,” he said.
“I’ve not heard of any other council providing masks for their residents.”
But Coun. Jenni Capps said it makes sense to have masks more readily available. “I think there’s still a lot to be seen with this pandemic, and it has the potential to grow,” she said.
But the majority of council voted against the request, largely because it didn’t fit the criteria of the program.
The second grant request was from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Cowichan Valley asking for funding to help create a virtual mentoring program.
The BBBSCV said its mentoring programs help youth impacted by adversity to reach their full potential, and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted the meetings between mentors and mentees.
The organization said it wants to set up a virtual mentoring program as a replacement for face-to-face interaction during the pandemic, and confirmed $38,000 for the initiative has been earmarked from other funders.
But Coun. Carol Newington said the information provided was insufficient and wanted the request deferred until more data is provided.
Coun. Duncan asked how it would benefit the city and its citizens.
Coun. Capps said she thinks there is a lot of validity to the mentoring program, but she noted the initiative is receiving funds from other sources and also requested more information.
The third request was from the Easter Seals BC/Yukon organization asking for a grant for its proposed virtual summer camp program after having to cancel its normal summer camps and activities due to the pandemic.
The organization has also applied for $60,000 for the proposal from other organizations.
Coun. Duncan said the Easter Seals’ Camp Shawnigan is in the Cowichan Valley Regional District and suggested they ask the district for financial support.
“The Easter Seals do great work, but our grant program is geared toward the city and its citizens,” he said.
The last request was from Glenora Farms asking for funding to reopen a day program for adults with disabilities, which was cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
With the funding from the city, as well as financial support from other organizations, Glenora Farms is looking to resurrect the programs using the new guidelines that are in place during the health crisis.
Once again, Coun. Duncan moved to deny the request as Glenora Farms is outside the boundaries of the city.
After denying all four funding requests, council instructed staff to have the applicants to the grant program make it clear in their submissions how their program would directly benefit Duncan and its citizens, and council added new criteria that funding would not be provided to adaptations of existing programs.