With COVID-19 putting added financial pressure on many not-for-profits, the District of West Vancouver has allocated $300,000 of its COVID-19 Safe Restart funds towards grants to help organizations continue their valuable work in the community.
The district, along with other municipalities, received a grant of $5 million from the B.C. provincial government relief fund for support of recovery activities suspended or affected because of COVID-19 after the pandemic struck. While the grant was to support municipal activities, the province has stated a portion of the funds can be used to support other not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) in the community in their restart efforts.
Council voted unanimously in support of offering NPOs the chance to apply for one-time COVID-19 impact assistance grants of up to $10,000 each to help them bounce back at the July 12 council meeting. Some exceptions of grants may be considered based on the organization’s size, scope, and the impact its services have on the residents of West Van, according to the report to council.
“This, I note, is the idea of our chief administrative officer [Robert Bartlett], and it’s a very exciting opportunity to be able to give out $300,000 to community organizations,” Coun. Nora Gambioli said at the meeting.
The decision doubles the amount of funding through the Community Grants Program allocated by the district to eligible NPO’s in 2021.
In a report to council, Sue Ketler, senior manager of community services for the district, said since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, many NPOs had struggled and continue to struggle with meeting financial obligations for fixed costs and to deliver their services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand on accessing the services and programs of NPOs while negatively affecting their revenues and volunteer contributions,” she wrote.
Ketler said through the 2021 Community Grants Program process, it was evident that many NPOs were struggling because of the pandemic’s restrictions.
“Organizations had to temporarily suspend programs and services while incurring the same operational expenses in order to meet the needs of their clients,” she said. “Many organizations had to purchase new equipment and arrange for technology and training in order to pivot programs to on-line services to continue to meet the demand.”
She said the grants would support the important work done by these NPOs and assist with the significant financial challenges they have experienced during this unprecedented time.
Eligible organizations include those that deliver services in the following areas: community and social services; arts, culture and heritage; sports; child care; business continuity; and environment.
Organizations must be in good standing and currently incorporated as a “society” under the BC Societies Act, and proof of financial need is required, the report states.
Applications are now open for the grants. The deadline for applications is 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 10.
The Community Grants Committee will then make funding allocation recommendations for council’s approval in October.
Elisia Seeber is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative