Winter market tries again for funding

Two groups go to city hall hoping for another chance at getting grant

Catherine Litt / Kamloops Daily News
January 29, 2013 01:00 AM

As City council prepares to OK $72,000 in social planning grants, two groups that failed to get funding are fighting for a second chance.

Among the 24 proposals submitted to the City's Social Planning Council late last year, only 20 are recommended for approval at today's regular council meeting. The grant committee is recommending four others be denied and a fifth be discounted because it arrived after the deadline.

"We're actually very disappointed," said Andy Balogh, spokesman for Visions Farmers Market Society, one of the groups denied funding.

Balogh's society asked for $2,667 to help offset startup costs. Visions Farmers Market is a new, winter market that operates on weekends in Sahali Centre Mall.

The grant committee denied the request, saying Visions lacked partnership with the existing Farmers' Market Society and a defined business plan. The group appealed, but that was also rejected.

Balogh insists the winter market has a solid business model and an established relationship with the downtown farmers market, and he's hoping City councillors will give his group a second chance when the issue comes up today at City council.

"I couldn't see a better opportunity for them to throw a little bit of money towards us to help in the one-time startup costs," said Balogh.

"We only asked for seed money. We don't want money on an ongoing basis; we asked for $2,600. It's startup money; we're a new organization."

Balogh's group has letters of reference from organizations like Kamloops Food Share and the Salvation Army, as well as a letter from Mayor Peter Milobar congratulating the new market on filling a need in the community.

But, when it comes to City grants, even an endorsement from the mayor isn't enough to secure financial help.

"The evaluation process is really thorough," said Jennifer Cosorso, Social and Community Development Supervisor for the City and the staff liaison to the Social Planning Council.

"And the committee members take it very seriously in terms of evaluating."

Applications were sent to the committee in November and examined carefully. Follow-up questions were sent back to some of the groups. If their answers failed to satisfy, the grant application was rejected.

Among those on the rejection list is the North Shore Community Centre, which asked for $1,500 to reduce its catering costs. The request was denied because it was presented to be offsetting costs for individual people to attend events and reduce the overall catering fee for those who book the space for events.

Kamloops Family Resources Society won a $5,000 grant but lost a bid for $14,960 because the request failed to meet the "special project" criteria.

Volunteer Kamloops was denied an undisclosed amount because of an incomplete application. The grants committee sought clarification, but was not satisfied with the answers.

"They just didn't have all their paperwork in order," said Cosorso.

Volunteer Kamloops was not available for comment on Monday.

The unluckiest group in the bunch is the Kamloops-Thompson School District's Street School, which applied for a $10,000 operational grant to help pay for its literacy outreach worker.

The application didn't even make it into the evaluation round because it was sent after the Nov. 13 deadline.

School principal Kent Brewer said his staff member, who wrote the grant, sent the application 15 minutes late.

"I guess the bottom line is there's deadlines in place for a reason and it's our responsibility to meet them," said Brewer.

For Cosorso and the grant committee, it's a matter of fairness.

Deadlines are firm and can't be broken.

"I think it's important to make sure that you're fair with your process," she said.

Despite the misfortune of Street School and the other failed applicants, there are still 20 grants to be approved at the meeting, ranging from $500 to $13,500.

Successful applicants include Seniors Outreach Society, Secwepemc Cultural Education Society, New Life Mission, Kamloops Women's Resource Group Society and Kamloops Food Bank.

In total, the social planning council evaluated $149,752 in grant requests, whittling some down and eliminating others to meet the $72,000 prize purse.

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