Central Saanich, by far, has the largest budget for grant-in-aid out of the three Saanich peninsula Municipalities.
At $97,000-plus this year, the District gives out nearly what both North Saanich and Sidney provide — combined. At last count, both of their neighbouring municipalities only had budgets of approximately $35,000 for grants-in-aid.
These are the monies the communities set aside each year to give to deserving service organizations and others, who provide some level of service to the community or the region.
In Central Saanich, the council there is reviewing its policy and over the next few years, they could significantly reduce that budget, slowly weaning organizations off of their funds.
They are taking this long period of time to review their grants policy — which is a good thing, as many groups rely on these funds to help them meet their own budgets for the year. Again, these are, for the most part, community service organizations. They provide events, activities and more to various people within a municipality — things that the local government just cannot do on their own.
In a nutshell, the grants-in-aid are small gestures — the grants can be as small as a couple hundred bucks to as much as $20,000 or more — made by the municipality. The message is: we like what you’re doing, it adds value to the experience of living here and this is our small way of supporting that.
These grants are a good thing, overall, as they help with groups’ fundraising efforts and gives them a springboard to seek out grants from other levels of government and from the business community. These groups face a constant struggle to find operating money as they compete with more and more organizations for an ever-shrinking pool of so-called extra cash.
In reviewing their grant-in-aid policy, Central Saanich will have to determine what value they place on these activities within their community and balance that with their own budgetary needs.
It’s not going to be easy, for this is one policy that can have a serious impact on many grassroots organizations. It could mean the difference between whether they thrive, or simply survive.