As rural communities see more and more development, big box chain stores, parking lots and concrete vistas, it’s a relief to see some small-town amelioration in the form of an extremely generous grant program.
Co-op’s “Community Spaces” program is making a name for itself across Western Canada as one of the largest, most open-ended and most generous grant programs available right now.
Help with accessing the grant program is available from Wetaskiwin Co-op and marketing coordinator Sam McDowell, Wetaskiwin Co-operative Association said she will lend a hand right in Wetaskiwin. “For most people I am more than happy to sit down with them and work through the application process,” she said by phone Jan. 6.
McDowell said the Co-op Community Spaces program offers grants in noticeably large amounts, up to $150,000 per project and will offer up to $2 million in grants across Western Canada this year. Over the past three years, noted McDowell, the program has granted about $4.5 million.
McDowell stated the program addresses the co-op’s goal of supporting the community. “The most important reason we offer this program is we are a cooperative, and our dollars are supposed to go back into the community,” she said, noting that all co-ops are involved with this program.
According to the program website, there are three funding categories: recreation, providing enhanced recreation spaces in the community, examples or which are recreation centres and playgrounds; environmental conservation, preservation of natural spaces in the community, examples of which are green spaces and interpretive centres and lastly; urban agriculture, small-scale community agricultural initiatives in both rural and urban spaces, examples of which are community gardens and food education facilities.
As with other grant programs, some rules and requirements apply. McDowell stated eligible groups must be non-profit, charity or cooperatives and that includes groups likes school councils or municipalities that are partnered with such groups.
Applicants and projects must be based in Western Canada, the project must be completed in two years and the project must allow for permanent signage.
Applications are to be completed only online, and must include a timeline and budget.
McDowell stated she spent quite a bit of time last year letting community groups know about the program and one local group benefitted greatly. The Wetaskiwin Agricultural Society received $95,000 under the recreation category for their multiplex building. “The new facility will include a boardroom, office, washrooms and a space for local events and organizations,” stated the Co-op website.
Applications for the program will be accepted starting Feb. 1, and the application period closes on Mar. 1. McDowell stated that it seemed like the longer the application process was, the more incomplete applications were.
She estimated decisions on grants will likely be made in June of this year. As stated, McDowell said she’s available to discuss the program with eligible groups.
She can be reached by phone at 780-361-6192 and email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Co-op Community Spaces is available online at http://crs.coopconnection.ca/communityspaces.