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Puslinch council fills only half of community grant funds requested

Of the $37,740 requested between nine organizations, only $16,870 was allocated
Puslinch Minor Soccer Club was the only organization that did not receive any of the grant funding it requested in 2024.

PUSLINCH ‒ Last year's cuts to community grant funding have left some organizations out of luck in 2024. 

The source of several debates during a council meeting last week, councillors are only allocating $16,870 in community grant funds to nine local organizations in 2024 – just over half of the $37,740 requested.  

This follows council's decision to reduce the ceiling on community grants from approximately $24,000 to $12,115 in 2023 to minimize the impact on the tax levy.

However, by reducing last year's ceiling, council subsequently reduced the amount available to organizations in 2024 – at least – without needing to increase the overall tax levy significantly.

"I have looking back regrets on reducing the grants but I also support the decision back then because it was a challenging year," said Mayor James Seeley, during the meeting. "I agree we need to work to get it back up closer to (where it was)." 

Looking to get the grant money "as close as possible" to $12,000, Coun. John Sepulis suggested allocating funding based on how council has helped in the past- singling out Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre, who requested $18,500, as one organization he "really didn't want to support." 

Puslinch Minor Soccer also drew the short stick, receiving none of the $3000 it requested to address team equipment needs and purchase medical kits. 

"At the end of the day it comes from the same pockets, our taxpayers so they don't see the difference," said Sepulis, suggesting "no soccer, no Sunrise, and no Whistle Stop." 

Seeley also initially suggested pulling funding from the Friends of Mill Creek because they're "healthier" than some of the other applications but changed his mind after pushback from his fellow councillors. 

However Coun. Sara Bailey and Coun. Jessica Goyda argued in favour of "gradually increasing" the funds allocated to community grants over time to get back to the original figure. 

"As a small rural municipality that doesn't have the resources to offer municipally run programs, I think supporting a lot of these groups is increasingly important," said Goyda. "In hindsight, I regret that we cut that back last year because I think it puts us in a difficult position this year." 

The final grant amounts allocated were: 

  • Aberfoyle Agricultural Society, $3,000
  • Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market Association Inc. requested $3000, will receive $2000
  • Crieff Hills Retreat Centre, requested $2,740, will only receive $1370
  • Ellis Chapel, $500
  • Friends of Mill Creek, $3,000
  • Optimist Club of Puslinch, $3,000
  • Puslinch Minor Soccer, requested $3,000, will receive $0
  • Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre, requested $18,500, will receive $3000
  • Whistle Stop Cooperative Preschool Inc., $1,000

Council also changed the application deadline to the last business day of September to help organizations like Whistle Stop who have submitted late applications for the last couple of years but warned another late application will remove them from future grant consideration.

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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