City of Prince Rupert freezes community enhancement grants for 2014 at 2013 level

Community groups won't be receiving any more money from the city this year than they did last year.

Community groups won’t be receiving any more money from the City of Prince Rupert this year than they did last year after council voted to fund Community Enhancement Grants in 2014 at the same level as 2013.

The total amount requested in 2014 rose from $1.41 million to $1.53 million, but council said they could not justify spending the additional money.

“The city still has a number of issues outstanding, including the sale of Watson Island, the removal of residual chemicals and city infrastructure is an ongoing concern,” said Mayor Jack Mussallem.

“I know a lot of people are looking at the [$2.1 million] the Prince Rupert Port Authority gave us and think we have a bunch more money, but I would remind people that we did have a budget shortfall in the spring and the infrastructure challenge has not gotten better … we are just trying to be cost efficient,” said Coun. Anna Ashley.

The decision will leave some organizations that were looking for significantly more for 2014 having to re-examine their operations in the year ahead.

The Museum of Northern BC had requested an increase from $201,500 to $244,500 in the face of “significant financial challenges” that would result in staff cuts without more money, but the museum will only receive $195,000 from the city due to a tax exemption they were granted earlier in the year.

The Prince Rupert Library had requested a funding increase of $36,000 to cover operational costs, but will receive the same $531,000 that was provided last year. However, council reserved the right to come back to that request in January

The Lester Centre had requested $4,000 to offset insurance for the society board of directors that is no longer being covered, but will need to find the money elsewhere.

A decision on the grant for Tourism Prince Rupert, including the visitor information centre, will be delayed until January.