Kneehill County council approved a new policy to help rural community hall associations keep up with infrastructure costs. 

The new community halls capital grant policy was approved at the Nov. 28 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a report from Carolyn Van der Kuil, legislative services coordinator, regarding Policy 15-4, Rural Community Hall Capital grant, in its revised form and ready for approval.

She noted in her report and during discussion Kneehill County already had a policy in place to help community hall boards with operating costs, but councillors also voiced their interest in a policy to help those associations with capital costs.

“As part of council’s four-year policy review schedule, administration presented a review of the existing grant policies at the June 20 committee of the whole (COW) meeting,” stated Van der Kuil’s memo to council.

“During that meeting, council expressed interest in exploring a rural community hall capital grant to provide capital funding for rural halls. 

It’s important to note that these halls already have access to Policy #15-13, Rural Community Halls, which covers operating grants.”

Van der Kuil summarized later council discussions on a capital program by adding, “(Councillors) sought to utilize existing funds for the new grant program, emphasized the need for active use of funds from both the original community grant program and the proposed rural community hall capital grant program, rather than having unused funds in one program while eligible applications might exist in the other, emphasized their reluctance to allocate funding to halls that aren’t effectively utilized and expressed a desire to see a stronger commitment to usage, (plus) they also expressed an interest in encouraging community participation by requiring matching funds from applicants.”

Van der Kuil noted councillors read an initial draft of the community halls capital policy in September, and made a few changes to it including “…making it mandatory to present projects to council for approval if the grant amount falls within the range of $2,000 to $5,000.

 Administra-tion used the $5,000 threshold in the policy, as this amount represents a more substantial project, avoiding frequent council delegations for smaller $2,000 requests.” 

The councillors also asked that a review of volunteer hours align with current wage standards in Alberta and also asked that Kneehill County be recognized when providing community hall capital funding, possibly in photo opportunities.

Readers should note operating costs are generally those incurred every day such as utility bills and office expenses, while capital costs are generally infrastructure projects such as furnaces or roof repairs.

Councillors unanimously approved the new rural community hall capital grant policy.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 15, 2023 at 09:30

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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