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Is Wellington North being too generous with its community grants?

Some councillors feel the $80,000 being handed out is too high and want the township to review its community grant allocations for 2025
The Township of Wellington North administration centre in Kenilworth. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

WELLINGTON NORTH – As other townships consider increasing their annual community grant funding, Wellington North will look at reducing how much it allocates during its 2025 budget process. 

While most councillors supported staff's recommendations to approve an advance of $82,636 in grants to 40 community initiatives during a council meeting Monday evening, some felt the amount needed to be lowered so it doesn't further impact the budget and taxpayers. 

Staff said $20,000 will be forwarded to be funded by the 2025 budget because allocating these grants exceeds the budgeted amount by approximately $21,000.

"I want to recognize that Wellington North does benefit greatly from these community volunteer groups and organizations that provide services or events to our township ... However, I just feel that this program is getting a little bit out of hand," said Coun. Sherry Burke, who opposed the motion.

While she understood why the township has tried to be "very generous" to help get groups and organizations back on their feet post-pandemic, Burke said this generosity is equivalent to approximately "a one per cent increase on the budget." 

According to Burke, the township gave out less than $40,000 pre-pandemic. 

"Every year, the total ask and the total requests that we're being asked to grant to these groups and organizations continues to increase and I'm having a little bit of trouble with that," said Burke.

Sharing some of Burke's concerns, Mayor Andy Lennox said he felt reviewing and " tightening up" the program in 2025 would be worthwhile despite approving the motion. 

"This program has grown organically into something larger than we maybe intended and...I think we need to be clear about what some of our goals and ideals are that we want to support (going forward)," said Lennox, during the meeting. "There are many more worthy items and enterprises that could request support and we can't support everything." 

Of the 41 requests included in the report, the township said no to one: the Wellington North Wide Yard Sale's request for a fee waiver of $1,370. 

Both North Wellington Healthcare Recruitment and Seniors Centre for Excellence received the most, getting $10,000 a piece.  

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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