Grant saves birthday events from chopping block

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Organizers of St. Albert’s 150th anniversary celebrations are breathing easier this week after receiving a $75,000 grant from the province.

The grant was the last piece of the funding puzzle for the Rendezvous 2011 effort, which involves dozens of events throughout the year.

Organizers had banked on a contribution from the province but securing a grant was difficult because new rules prohibit groups directly affiliated with a municipality from applying.

“I’m very happy,” said board chair Margaret Plain. “It’s very nice to have some provincial funding that supports the 150th anniversary celebration.”

The anniversary committee couldn’t apply for the grant directly because the province changed the rules so that municipalities couldn’t apply. The St. Albert Community Foundation stepped in to secure the grant on behalf of the anniversary committee.

The grant is for advertising and marketing the various events planned throughout the year, Plain said.

Earlier this year the committee said it was trimming its spending by more than $100,000 and warned of further cuts if provincial grants didn’t come through. Getting the money means the committee doesn’t have to worry about cancelling events.

“It’s a big hallelujah,” Plain said. “From this point on we just continue rolling out our events.”

The city has contributed $556,000 to the anniversary effort, while the sponsorship committee raised $400,000 from local businesses and the federal government provided $114,000.

Local MLAs Ken Allred and Doug Horner both worked on getting the provincial grant through red tape, Plain said.

“We pushed them the same that Margaret was pushing us,” Allred said of his and Horner’s efforts.

The grant was finalized very late in the 2010 fiscal year, which ends March 31, said Allred, but took time to work its way through all the government’s hoops.

“I got very concerned, it being year end, that they might not get it in time so I made a few phone calls and found out that yes, it was in the mill, it was just a matter of getting the required signatures,” he said.

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