Whitehorse council approves changes to environmental grants

Major funds will now be doled out only once a year

Changes are coming to the City of Whitehorse’s process in doling out environmental grants after city council voted in favour of amendments to the policy governing the grant Oct. 28.

The changes came in light of issues around the wording of the policy.

“It is now apparent that 2017 wording around cost-sharing has resulted in several possible interpretations,” planning manager Mélodie Simard stated in an earlier report to council. “The amendment is being brought forward at this time in order to interfere as little as possible with organizations planning for funding applications as the October deadline has just passed. Applications received in October will not be affected by this policy change.”

The policy now makes it clear any equipment and capital costs of more than $1,000 must be cost-shared between the city and the organization.

The other major policy change will see the city move to just one intake period for major grants of more than $1,000.

The city had two intakes for the major grants in February and October, but was getting very few applications for the February deadline, Simard said.

That meant applications approved in February typically received the full funding applicants were looking for while those submitted in October typically received only partial funding because of the increased number of applicants.

Moving to one intake for major funds will not only address that issue, but will also save administrative time, Simard said.

Coun. Dan Boyd joined the rest of council in supporting the changes, but said he was “reluctantly” going along with the move to one intake each year.

He suggested city staff might find two intakes are better than dealing with all the applications at once for major grants.

That said, he noted he doesn’t mind trying out the one-intake period, noting it could come back again in a couple of years if it doesn’t work.

Coun. Laura Cabott, meanwhile, praised the move, pointing out council is often asking staff to find efficiencies wherever possible.

“This is one efficiency,” she said, going on to confirm city staff will be contacting regular applicants to ensure they’re aware of the changes.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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