Donation requests moved to budget deliberations

Numerous community and county organizations approached Leduc County council during it's Sept. 8 meeting.

Numerous community and county organizations approached Leduc County council during it’s Sept. 8 meeting with funding requests; all were deferred to budget 2016 discussions, which will take place later this year.

West Central Forage Association

West Central Forage Association (WCFA) specializes in applied research and extension delivery to livestock and forage producers. It works with six counties — including Leduc — to bring workshops, grassroots engagement and information to producers and operations.

President Grant Taillieu told council former Alberta premier Jim Prentice recalled an anticipated funding increase, putting the organization in a  tight spot after plans were put in place that relied on the money.

The Agriculture Opportunity Fund caps at $1.5 million, where it has been for the past 12 years, with one addition to funding in 2011. In 2014 the Government of Alberta announced the fund would be doubled to reach $3 million via the Agriculture and Food Innovation Endowment Fund. However, Prentice closed the endowment fund, leaving the  Agriculture Opportunity Fund at $1.5 million. Due to the setback WCFA was forced to cut back a staffing position.

WCFA is asking Leduc County for $20,670, the equivalent of an individual membership for each of the county’s 689 producers at $30 per membership.

In order to continue providing its services at the current level, WCFA requires stabled core finding to cover operational and administrative costs. Taillieu says county contributions range from $10,000 to $60,000 per year. “That core funding is so important to what we do.”

Taillieu says the organization does not want to rely on or increase individual memberships as it may be too costly for some producers and he does not want that to be the reason they cannot access the same information and support others can.

Leduc Boys and Girls Club

Leduc Boys and Girls Club is requesting a $4,000 funding donation, which is a $200 increase from last year.

Coun. John Schonewille says with every organization facing challenges due to the economy, an increase may not be feasible. “The chances of increases, don’t look too much for them.”

Executive director Shawna Bissell and president Brett Baynes encouraged council to view the organization and programs as an investment in the kids. Baynes says funding the Boys and Girls Club should be as important as other council priorities, such as roads.

“Our future (is) our kids,” said Baynes.

Bissell says some of the need for increased funding is due to the projected increase of minimum wage. “That’s going to significantly impact our budget.”

Bissell also explained that the Boys and Girls Club is not looking to raise user and service fees. “You increase your fee you risk losing kids.”

She says approximately 40 per cent of families with children who attend the Boys and Girls Club have at least one parent who has recently lost a job. “I really hesitate to raise membership fees.”

Coun. Tanni Doblanko requested council receive numbers on how many county children attend the Boys and Girls Club before budget deliberations.

Pigeon Lake Watershed Association

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association is hoping county council will make a contribution to its three-year Healthy Watershed Runoff project.

Council was given a budget oversight in which it is listed for a total of $18,500.

For the engagement program, the association is hoping council will donate $3,500, another $5,000 for guidance resources and $10,000 for an on-the-ground campaign and demonstrations.

“We’re proposing today that we work together for the health of Pigeon Lake,” said president Susan Ellis.

“We’ve already got the team together, we’ve already got support,” she added.

She says one of the biggest things the association is focusing on is stopping excess nutrients from entering the lake.

Ellis says, for the project, the association already has two grants: one totalling $100,000 and another for $10,000.

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association is also putting $140,000 into the project and another $150,000 in-kind.

“If you do this with us, the return on investment . . . Leduc County is seen to be part of the action. You’re working toward the lake,” said Ellis.

Coun. Clay Stumph was concerned the association’s project could negatively affect the lake’s water levels.

“We’re not stopping water from getting to the lake. We’re slowing it down, spreading it out and filtering it,” Ellis explained.

The association runs with 240 members. “Obviously the people recognize it as an issue,” said Mayor John Whaley.

Riseup House

The Riseup House Society in Leduc is hoping for $10,000 in funding.

In 2015 the long-term women’s outreach centre with a focus on domestic violence has provided counsel to 104 Leduc County women.

In recent months, due to budget challenges, the Riseup House almost had to close its doors and was forced to lay off executive director Sacha Aldrich, as well as cut back its office hours.

Leduc Victim’s Assistance

Leduc Victim’s Assistance is also looking for funding from Leduc County.

Following the request made during council’s meeting administration was instructed to contact the organization and confirm a monetary amount. In the past council donated $7,500.

“This is something I feel is valuable going forward,” said Coun. Rick Smith.

 

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