EDITORIAL: Grants in need of careful management

Grants to community groups remain important but are not sacrosanct.

Community grants handed out by District of Sooke council are important but not sacrosanct.

Last week council handed out more than $30,000 in biannual grants. Those grants went to such worthy causes such as teaching children music, Boy Scouts, health care, a music festival, and, yes, even a fishing derby.

This time around, unlike last fall, there was little controversy, and most groups that asked for money received it.

Still, there was an undercurrent that council – or government – should be funding everything. Not only is that impossible, but not a very good use of public funds.

When it comes to biannual grants council’s community grants committee asks some basic questions: What are the economic drivers for our community? What brings people to our community? How can the grants help with capital costs?

There is no doubt there are many events in our community that are worthwhile and should be considered for some form of public funding, but eventually they must learn to pay their way.

The public purse strings and local politicians would be in trouble if the district started paying for every event when these events should at some point become self-sustainable.

Over the last three years, there has been many discussions, both in committee and council, about the need for if you are going to hold an event someone pays to go to the event eventually you have to work it so that your event can get off the public dole.

It’s good public policy.

If that policy goes sideways, the result might be no grants as happens in many other communities.

Council is smart to keep to its guns on what qualifies for public funds and who gets them.

After all, there is only one taxpayer, and that taxpayer expects council to spend smarter and cut fat.

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