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LETTER: Grants will benefit community groups in Central Saanich

On Jan. 25, Central Saanich council endorsed a COVID-19 non-profit grant program and application process presented by Central Saanich staff. The total amount available from the Canada-BC Safe Restart fund is set at $50,000, with a maximum grant of $7,500 for any one group. Applications will be received and reviewed by staff; approval by the CAO will depend on the application meeting set criteria.

It was clear that council has the authority to increase the total amount available and maximum available to a qualifying group. The financial impacts of COVID on non-profits and municipalities are ongoing and the district needs to be both measured and compassionate when it considers applying these funds over the next few years.

The application process will be open to all local non-profit groups, like the Sidney Lions Food Bank that serves those in need in our community, for example. We believe that all applications should be treated equally and fairly by staff, so the motion to direct staff to consult with the Farmlands Trust (FLT) was not supported by council. Council did receive a request for support from the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, but not from the Farmlands Trust. The community will be informed when the process is ready to go, and both the chamber and the FLT will be notified.

The front-page article in the Peninsula News Review on Jan. 28 was not informative of the discussion that took place during the live-streamed debate in the council chamber. Coun. Graham was in attendance remotely. We were surprised by the strong comments expressed in the article as they were not shared with council during the meeting and the motion to endorse the staff proposal was approved unanimously.

Mayor Ryan Windsor, Coun. Chris Graham, Coun. Carl Jensen, Coun. Gord Newton, Coun. Niall Paltiel and Coun Robert Thompson

Central Saanich council