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City’s grants policy may change

Published on

Troy Shantz

Sarnia city council approved some $147,000 in municipal grants this month, but may change how funds are handed out in the future.

Grants were approved for six local groups at the Jan. 15 council meeting, ranging from $200 for the Lambton Farm Safety group, to $72,000 for the Sarnia Physician Recruitment Taskforce of Sarnia-Lambton.

“The impact is minimal, but the value we get is amazingly large,” Coun. Mike Kelch told council. “This is small ball, but it has big consequences for the community.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the grants, which also included $40,000 to the Canada Day Committee, $22,000 for Bluewater Trails, $6,000 to the Sarnia Historical Society, $5,000 for Engine 6069 in Centennial Park, and $1,500 for Communities in Bloom.

But Coun. Cindy Scholten admitted she was cautious about committing funds for future considerations.

“The Corporation of the City of Sarnia is not a foundation,” she said at the meeting. “It is not our responsibility to hand out grant money.

“At the end of every year, we don’t have money to hand out.”

Scholten suggested the city consider a set annual amount for grants via a foundation, such as the Sarnia Community Foundation, and let them decide who receives funds.

Noting several other municipalities that do the same, Scholten said it removes council’s responsibility of choosing who gets funded and who doesn’t.

Coun. Bev MacDougall put forth a motion that city staff work on refining that application process for the future, not unlike what Lambton County already uses.

“We want to make sure money is well invested,” she said.

Council asked city staff to provide a draft municipal grants policy in 90 days.

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