City Clerk Dianne Gould-Brown, Mayor Mike Bradley and CAO Margaret Misek-Evans BlackburnNews.com photo by Melanie Irwin

Council Approves 2018 Grants

Five groups have been spared from proposed 2018 municipal grant cuts.

Sarnia council approved $147,000 in payments Monday, after tabling a decision on budget deliberation day December 5, 2017.

Staff had recommended only funding half of this years $72,000 application from the Sarnia-Lambton Physician Recruitment Taskforce and $6,000 application from the Sarnia Historical Society.

Grant reductions were also recommended for the Lambton Farm Safety Association, Communities in Bloom and the Engine 6069 Group.

Councillor Mike Kelch says sometimes they spend too much time debating parts of the budget that have a minimal impact on the bottom line, but a large value to the community.

“I take a look at Communities in Bloom, which is a proven success,” says Kelch. “I look at the healthcare recruitment taskforce and I know other communities have pulled away from that. That’s disappointing to me… but I don’t see any way that we can’t support that at this point in time and cutting it in half is pretty much just going to destroy the organization.”

While councillor Cindy Scholten was also in favour of maintaining the funding, she thinks the city could benefit from changing its procedures in the future.

“What we have to remember that the Corporation of the City of Sarnia is not a foundation, it is not our responsibility to hand out grant money,” says Scholten. “At the end of every year, we don’t have any money to hand out, we are looking at cuts and where we can save.”

Scholten likes the idea of determining what funds are available for grants and giving it to a foundation to disperse.

“Say we did that with the Sarnia Community Foundation, set our terms and procedures on how we would fund it and then that foundation reports to the municipality at the end of every year,” she says.

Council has asked staff to develop a draft grant policy and report back within 90 days.