Red Cross spends more money on operations than in direct aid in Slave Lake

People across the country and around the world donated $5.5 million to the Canadian Red Cross to help the people of Slave Lake after a wildfire devastated the Alberta town one year ago.

People across the country and around the world donated $5.5 million to the Canadian Red Cross to help the people of Slave Lake after a wildfire devastated the Alberta town one year ago.

But so far, more money has been spent on operating the charity in the community than in direct aid to its people. And half of the donations are still sitting in the bank.

Steve Armstrong, the Alberta director of the Red Cross, says the money is being well spent.

“Every penny of it is being spent on people affected by that fire.”

Armstrong says some residents have voiced concern about where the money has gone and he admits the agency initially did a poor job of talking about its work in the town. It’s now trying to change that.

It recently posted a report detailing the donations.

Roughly $770,000 first went to helping people with emergency rent, food and clothing. It also funded various programs, including an anti-bullying project and hot lunches in schools and daycares when evacuees returned. In all, the Red Cross says it aided 4,500 people and is still working with about 400 families.

The library burned in the fire, so the Red Cross spent another $400,000 to rent a temporary location for two years. Armstrong says it was important to give the community a meeting place.

The Red Cross says it has spent just over $1.5 million on its own operations — the costs of running a charity, Armstrong says.

About $815,000 went to transporting and housing aid workers, $229,000 to renting an office in the town and $529,000 to pay staff and help volunteers with incidentals.

There were initially 350 volunteers on site. The local Red Cross office now has five paid staff and another five volunteers. The agency plans to keep the office open in Slave Lake indefinitely, but that cost won’t come out of the Slave Lake pool of money.

That leaves $2.8 million.

About $800,000 will be set aside for ongoing recovery work in the town and $2 million is going to a new community projects fund. A committee is accepting ideas from residents and organizations —anything from a Boy Scout trip to a sports tournament.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Council approved a $3 million grant and a $19 million loan Tuesday to help keep Westerner Park sustainable. (Advocate file photo)
Red Deer city council approves $22M to keep Westerner Park viable after emotional debate

It’s vital ensure future success for the huge economic generator, says mayor

Red Deer Rebels goalie Chase Coward tries to find a loose puck during WHL action at the Centrium earlier this season. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Changes on the horizon for Red Deer Rebels next season

New coach, roster adjustments among top priorities for Sutter this offseason

Renovations and construction have begun at Red Deer Dream Centre. (Photo contributed)
Renovations underway at Red Deer Dream Centre

Christian-based addictions treatment centre

Red Deer County's municipal planning commission gave approval for a new directional sign for a business located near Elnora.
(Image from Red Deer County)
Red Deer County garden centre and winery gets sign approved

Delidais Estate Winery and DA Gardens is located near Elnora

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Here is a list of latest COVID-19 restrictions in effect in Alberta

New mandatory health restrictions are now in effect in Alberta. Additional restrictions… Continue reading

Boston Bruins left wing Nick Ritchie (21) and Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Raffl’s late goal pushes Capitals past Bruins, 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Alex DeBrincat (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Chicago, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Toews’ question chases Chicago Blackhawks into offseason

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Wheeler has two goals, two assists as Winnipeg Jets clinch third in North Division

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Depleted Raptors drop a 115-96 decision to Leonard and Clippers

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime upsets Diego Schwartzman at Italian Open

Philadelphia Flyers' James van Riemsdyk (25) and Sean Couturier (14) celebrate past New Jersey Devils' Yegor Sharangovich (17) after a goal by van Riemsdyk during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

Flyers drop from trendy East favorite to another lost season

André Gauthier is shown in a handout photo. Gauthier, a Canadian geologist who spent six years in and out of jail in Dubai after he allegedly uncovered fraud in a gold company, finally is back home in Quebec City after his release last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Detained in Dubai MANDATORY CREDIT
Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

Canadian geologist detained in Dubai for six years is back home after charges dropped

This undated photo provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows a group of bighorn sheep in North Dakota. Alberta's environment department has known for years that toxins from old coal mines are contaminating populations of the province's official animal, the bighorn sheep. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Bihrle/North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP, File
Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Alberta government knew bighorn sheep contaminated with coal mine selenium: scientist

Most Read