Recreation grant funding reduced

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Applicants for the federal Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) grant need to get their forms in by May 29, and funding for projects has been reduced from 50 per cent to 33 per cent.

Representatives from the federal government could not be reached for comment, but Chris Jardine, the city’s general manager of community services, said applicants shouldn’t be discouraged.

“My general sense of it is it’s better than nothing, so I wouldn’t sneeze at it,” he said. “My speculation is they’ve got a pool of money … they want to stretch it out as far as they can.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the grant in February, allocating $500 million over two years to fix up or renovate community recreational facilities.

At the time, the federal government said it would fund up to 50 per cent of the cost of each project, but now that figure has been reduced by 17 per cent and a maximum contribution of $1 million to any one project.

Doug McLennan, president of the St. Albert Curling Club, plans to apply for the grant to renovate the front portion of the curling club, but he doesn’t think the reduced funding will affect his project.

“It doesn’t change us one bit,” said McLennan. “One of the good news points is because of the way the economy is going it looks like our costs are going to be lower.”

McLennan said the project may cost less than the projected $2.4 million, and with $1.6 million committed from the city and provincial government the RInC grant is enough.

According to Jardine, the city also plans to apply for the grant, but the May 29 deadline makes it difficult.

“I hate to complain about money … [but]this got released yesterday and we have to have the application in by the end of the month,” Jardine said.

He said the city is looking at the grant money to upgrade the Kinex/Akinsdale Arenas, or even phase two of the Riel Park remediation.

The city also has some grant money of its own to hand out.

Community capital grants

The application deadline for its community capital grants has come and gone, and now the city has to decide who gets the money and who doesn’t.

The grants are used to renovate or upgrade local recreational or cultural facilities.

The city has received 12 applications totalling more than $1 million, but has just $825,000 to hand out.

Jardine said the fact that there are more applications than funding means the program is successful.

“It’s not uncommon to have more applications … than what’s available,” said Jardine.

He wasn’t able to say who applied for the grant money, but he did say the amounts requested ranged from $10,000 to $165,000 per project. But he added applicants need to have their own funding in place if they hope to get more from the city.

“One of the key things that we were looking for was confidence that if we were going to grant these funds it’s going to accomplish something,” said Jardine. “Secondly, we’re looking for broad appeal. So something that … appeals to a broader segment of the community.”

He said the city’s next step would be to see what applications meet the grant criteria and then make a recommendation to council in the next few weeks.

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