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Council to set grants, loans policy

Community groups seeking capital cash from the city will soon have guidelines.

On Monday, the city’s Governance and Policy committee, which is comprised of all city councillors, delved into the details to set clear policy on granting community capital loans and grants.

Up until now, Red Deer city council has allocated capital loans and grants without a clear decision-making process and direction.

In the last three years, the city has given $7.02 million in capital grants to the Red Deer Curling Centre ($6 million) and to the Westerner ($1.02 million).

As of last Dec. 31, there was $3.4 million in outstanding loans to community groups since 2005, including the Red Deer and District SPCA ($979,397) and River Bend Golf & Recreation Centre ($1.54 million).

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said based on the economy and the way the province is headed, it’s going to get worse than better.

“We will probably see more requests,” said Wyntjes.

“Hence a policy is more important than ever. It’s not a program. It’s a policy. What are the checks and balances.”

Members said the grants and loans must be an investment in the city. As well, they said, the granting must be fair and equitable.

There’s still many details to iron out, including the funding source, the granting of a loan versus a grant and the application or request process.

“It’s hard to deal with because we don’t know what the demand is,” said Coun. Cindy Jefferies. “We might not see some groups come forward that want a grant or loan. In other years we might see quite a few.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said he supports a grant and loan program because if they didn’t have one they would be denying the community access to other corporate or provincial funding that hinged on municipal funding.

“I think it should be on merit and need,” said Flewwelling. “We should look at these in terms of investment as exposed to an expenditure.”

Coun. Chris Stephan questioned why the city was in the loan business, competing with other businesses.

The committee approved the overarching principles including that the funding result in a societal benefit to the community as a whole, the process must be ongoing, open and transparent and timely. The decision-making will maintain a council decision. The committee directed administration to develop a risk management strategy.

The committee also directed administration to develop a framework and implement guidelines with time lines and costs by June 30.



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