The City of Summerside is considering more changes in how it supports some community organizations.
Some of the changes are potentially significant for groups who currently enjoy free use of city facilities.
The Governance, Policy and Strategy Committee (GPS) of council has been taking a hard look at the municipality’s funding of non-governmental organizations, directly through community grants and indirectly like the waving of user fees, for some time.
In 2017 council passed a new Community Support Policy that outlines things like what kind of support is available, who can apply for it and how much they could be eligible for.
But there were some aspects of community support that the policy did not cover as the GPS committee was tasked by council to take a closer look at them specifically.
“AS we got into it we realized it was much more complex then perhaps it might have looked at on the surface. There really was no blanket solution to it,” said Coun. Brian McFeely, chairman of the GPS committee.
McFeely revealed those new recommendations at the recent Committee of Council meeting.
Some of the highlights include:
- Recommending that all groups who ask for municipal funding be classified under four categories
- Capping funding and in-kind services to the Prince County Hospital Foundation
- Keeping city-owned outdoor sports facilities free of user and lighting fees until at least March 31, 2019, but that the next council start talking to neighbouring municipalities about a cooperative, long-term, plan for regional recreation buildings
- That the city move the Boys and Girls Club, Generation XX, College of Piping and Harboufront Theatre out of the community support system and instead develop multi-year funding/in-kind service agreements with them
- Develop a new cost sharing agreement with Three Oaks Senior High for the use of Credit Union Place for its graduation as the amount the school currently pays is minimal.
As part of these discussions some councillors have expressed concern that Summerside allows free use of its outdoor facilities to organized sports groups while many other large municipalities don’t. The issue of groups based outside the city getting the same level of service as groups based inside the municipal boundaries has also been raised.
At least some of the recommendations seem geared towards eventually addressing those concerns.
Aside from a few questions councillors were supportive of the recommendations and moved that they go back to the committee for one final review, then be brought back to council at its February meeting for potential addition to the Community Support Policy.