Cornwall community grant process reopened

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Cornwall has reopened it grants to outside agencies process for another intake almost eight months after it closed.

City council approved the reopening for applications from July 1 to July 10 after the one-month intake closed at the end of October 2020.

Any new applications will be reviewed by the Municipal Grants Review Committee.

The approval went ahead despite strong objections from Coun. Dean Hollingsworth that council was breaking its own policy and was not being equitable because everybody had a fair chance. The grant application time was published in the local newspaper and on social media.

“Every single person in the City of Cornwall had opportunity to apply for grants. Every one of them. The reason we put this policy in place was to mitigate the politics and the lobbying,” Hollingsworth said.

He suggested that COVID is starting to become an excuse.

Coun. Syd Gardiner, who sits on the grants review committee, objected to the assertion saying “COVID is a reality, it’s not a maybe thing” and “policies are put in place to guide us…not to put us in a position where we dictate to people what can be done and what can’t be done.”

Coun. Glen Grant, who brought the motion forward, says it “helps our community and events” coming out of the pandemic. Coun. Carilyne Hebert added little attention has been brought to the struggles of the service and non-profit sector compared to the focus on the suffering of small business.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald added that council has been flexible during the pandemic with “flipped bylaws” and giving out small business loans. “We have been absolutely flexible for 15 months and I don’t see why, when it comes to this group, which is primarily composed of volunteers in the community, why for them we should say no.”

Acting Mayor Todd Bennett, who sits on and is chairman of the grants review committee, agreed somewhat with Hollingsworth’s assessment. “It has to be very clear in the community that this isn’t going to be every summer that we’re going to say, ‘Hey, we have $50,000 left, let’s reopen it.’ As much as a I hate to say COVID is an excuse, it’s an excuse.”

With the coronavirus pandemic waning, Bennett added that he would “never vote to open the application process again in the summer of 2022 for any reason.”

Council passed new rules for grants to outside agencies in January 2020, setting a $200,000 budget for 2021. Banter at council Monday night suggested there was still $82,900 left on the table.

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