Groups cash in on local grants

A total of 18 local groups presented before council and mayor last week for grants.

Sooke groups and organizations are looking at a new year ahead received a multitude of grants from council last week.

Around 18 entities presented their cases for funding, which included major community services such as the Sooke Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and the Harmony Project.

For Mayor Maja Tait, the highlights were the new projects, such as the Sooke Royal Canadian Legion stepping up for the first time in years to receive funding.

“It was nice to see something from the legion come forward,” Tait said, adding that council unanimously voted giving $10,000 instead of $7,000. “They really need to paint the outside of their building.”

The second group to receive significant funds was the Harmony Project, a free local music program for kids that helps them learn a musical instrument. As such, $7,000 was given to buy larger instruments, which was otherwise impossible.

“The program is starting to take off for young musicians, so it was a nice thing to see,” Tait said.

Taking part of the spotlight was the implementation of a second community garden at Sooke Baptist Church. The funding was critical and well-placed, Tait noted, adding that there was always a need for another community garden. This garden’s purpose is to specifically serve the Sooke Food Bank with fresh produce as well as helping local families in need.

No doubt, food remained a priority, though for some groups, such as Meals on Wheels, cost of operating its services has increased over the last few years, noted Meals on Wheels coordinator Lorraine Hoy.

“With increased cost of meals, particularly the meat portion, we find that we run at a loss, and have done so for several years now, losing approximately $3,000 a year,” Hoy told council, hoping the grant will help the organization maintain its low prices for its customers, a mantra that’s been held in place for the last 30 years.

Not all councillors were initially on board with funding either, such as Coun. Ebony Logins, who was concerned council would end up funding a loss.

“To feel comfortable funding a deficit, I need to know what the plans are to work out of that deficit,” Logins said.

Despite the concern, council granted $5,000, allowing the group to end up with a surplus of $2,300 at the end of the year.

Overall, Tait said the athmosphere that night was positive and respectful.

“It’s a great opportunity to see what local community groups are doing for the community, and in some cases it would be good to learn more about some organizations.”