Community grants to be reviewed by committee
February 22 was the deadline for community groups and non-profit organizations to submit their applications for spring grants-in-aid and community grants.
At the Monday, March 11, special council meeting, Kristen Watson, the municipality’s interim manager of finance, presented the terms of reference for establishing a Community Grants Advisory Committee. The role of this volunteer committee will be to review all applications for assistance in the form of grants and permissive tax exemptions, as well as provide input and assistance to staff in drafting policy.
“This is an initiative that was brought up in the last round of tax exemption applications. It was identified by staff that there needs to be a more transparent and objective process in decision making when it comes to awarding permissive tax exemptions and community grants,” Watson said. “We consulted with the finance committee and we invited Joyce Ganong, [chair of the Bowen Island Community Foundation,] to attend one of our meetings where we discussed establishing the committee and its terms of reference.” Watson explained that the purpose of the committee is to provide recommendations to council on community grants, grants-in-aid and permissive tax exemptions that set out to enhance the quality of life while delivering services economically to Bowen Islanders.
Together with staff, the committee will draft policies that relate to grant applications for council’s consideration. Watson explained that Ganong discussed how to implement a weighted criteria system based on strategic objectives. “We hope to come up with very clear and objective weighted criteria in order to accurately evaluate and make recommendations to council to make decisions on these applications,” Watson said, adding that this would lead to an objective process to assess and prioritize grant requests and permissive tax exemption applications.
For the community grant advisory committee’s draft terms of reference, Watson recommended “that the members of the committee will be selected from a wide range of stakeholder groups and will include one member of council and one representative from the Bowen Island Community Foundation. Members will serve for a term of three years and will meet semi annually in accordance with the municipal grant cycle.”
Watson also envisions that the committee will consult with relevant organizations, such as the Bowen Island Arts Council, the Bowen Island Museum and Archives, the West Vancouver School District, Camp Bow Isle, the Rivendell Foundation and Tir-na-nOg.
Taxpayers and recipient organizations will benefit through an objective and transparent decision making process aligned with the mission and values as defined by municipal grant policy. “The benefits to the community at large would be that in the future, on the advice of the committee, council will be able to make objective and transparent decisions,” Watson said.