Community organizations will be asked to consider the City’s planning policies when applying for next year’s Columbia Basin Trust community initiatives and affected areas program grants.
The recommendation was passed at a city council meeting this month following a lengthy conversation at the committee of the whole meeting in September.
Councillors Donna Macdonald and Deb Kozak both mentioned they like the concepts presented by city staff, but don’t want the process to become a burden to applicants.
“We don’t want to stifle ideas,” said Kozak. “Some of the best ideas come from outside of the box.”
Over the last couple years city staff suggested to council that the process for selecting successful applicants be reviewed.
“Early this year we said let’s bring it back in September and talk about it then,” said Macdonald after last month’s committee of the whole meeting.
“There also needed to be some conversations with the Trust and the regional district, who administer the program for the Trust, to make sure what we want to do can be accommodated in their processes.”
City staff presented options to council this month.
The three options included: maintaining the status quo, changing the process for 2013, or changing the process in 2013 and reviewing the outcomes before 2014.
City manager Kevin Cormack said it should be important in the selection process that council consider the City’s four pillars of sustainability: environment, social, culture and economy.
“I think the notion of trying to keep our various planning documents as living documents that people use when developing grant proposals is a good one,” said Macdonald. “We just need to make sure that it is fairly simple and not adding an additional burden on volunteers as they are filling out their applications. We also want to look at whether there is some way to bring community opinion into the process.”
Salmo introduced what is sometimes referred to as a dot-ocracy, where residents are allocated dots to vote for proposals they want grants given to.
But many councillors felt the Salmo model wouldn’t work for Nelson, and staff should look at other ways to include public input.
“I don’t think the dot-ocracy works very well in a city this size. It works okay in a smaller community,” said Macdonald. “Then again, as mentioned, all of these plans we’ve developed had a lot of public input into them and if we are simply advancing those plans then I think we are working with the support of the community through the development of those plans.”
Part of the grant allocation process has included 35 per cent to the arts, culture and heritage sector.
Concerns emerged around how this money would be distributed in the future.
“The City tasked the Cultural Development Commission to adjudicate all those applications,” said Macdonald. “The commission did that with the help of a volunteer jury of professionals from the community. They spent a day working on that.”
Macdonald felt this was a very successful approach because it brought local expertise into the process.
“The reason we went about establishing that 35 per cent minimum was to assist the commission in its work to develop the cultural sector as something that benefits our quality of life and is an economic development generator,” she said.
But unfortunately, Macdonald said the jury process wasn’t as successful this year and the commission was left unhappy with the disregard they felt council gave their recommendations.
During the meeting, Dooley said it was the prerogative of council to make decisions they felt were in the best interests of the community, regardless of the recommendations from the jury.
Council agreed the jury should continue to give recommendations to council in the future around arts, culture and heritage proposals.