AFFNO wants City to help with rental bill, and to work on an in-kind donation basis

Members from AFFNO made a presentation to City councilors at last Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting with two hopes.

Members from the Association des Francophone et Francophile du Nord-Ouest  (or AFFNO) made a presentation to City councilors at last Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting with two hopes: for the City to forgive a bill the non-profit organization has left over from renting the Jim Ciccone Civic Center’s auditorium for the Sugar Shack Festival, and to receive donations from the City on an in-kind basis for now on –effectively asking council to wave all costs and charges for renting the civic center’s auditorium for the festival from now on.

“We didn’t really want money changing hands,” said Dalton, who is the president of AFFNO, on the issue.

Since opening their office in Prince Rupert in January of 2011, AFFNO has hosted the Sugar Shack Festival for two consecutive years, with the event growing in popularity.

“The 2012 festival was our second annual, and it was very well attended. We are quite pleased with the community supporting us in our endeavor,” Dalton told the council.

The Sugar Shack Festival is held on the last Saturday of January. The first year the City made an in-kind donation for the cost of renting the auditorium, however the following year they were advised to go to the City and request to get a community enhancement grant instead.

In January 2012, AFFNO requested a grant of $1,000 from the city to help pay for the festival. At the time, executive director Patrick Witwicki told councilors that the festival depends largely on the group’s ability to get a grant from the federal government, and that the government decides who gets those grants by looking for evidence of community interest.

However, AFFNO’s $1,000 request was cut in half by city council and the group only received $500. This caused problems when the time to pay the rental bill came around, and the group could only pay $500 of it off, leaving a bill of $406.75 with no money to pay for it.

AFFNO could not apply for any more grant money from the federal government, as they had already sent off all of the festival’s reports to Heritage Canada, and the group cannot rely on fund raising to pay off the bill, because Dalton and Witwicki are the only people employed by AFFNO. This makes organizing fund raising events near impossible.

However, the City does not usually do things this way. In most cases the City will estimate what they would charge out to someone at market rate, and forgive a percentage of the prospective revenue rate, with whomever paying the rest, with City Councilors deciding on the amount of coverage.

The council decided to defer the issue until the next council meeting.

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