Vernon councillors need to know more about what they’re funding before offering support that would help a local service club obtain cash through a federal grant.
In a final plea, the Vernon Elks 45 asked the City of Vernon for a financial or in-kind donation of any size so the club could finalize its application for the Legacy Fund Centennial Project from Heritage Canada in order to update the facility.
The Legacy Fund requires applicants to “demonstrate tangible and meaningful support from the municipality.” A letter of support from the mayor was provided in October, but that was deemed insufficient without any kind of monetary or in-kind donation.
The club was granted one last chance to reach out to the city regarding its unsuccessful March 2020 application.
City staff, however, pointed to council’s historic position to consolidate the block for future redevelopment, whether that involves purchasing the Elks Hall or having a future developer incorporate program space for the service club, CAO Will Pearce said.
Coun. Brian Quiring proposed a motion to donate $500 which would only be made available if the club was successful in its grant application.
“It looks a little bit like we’re forcing them out,” Quiring said. “They need us to get this grant and we’re not going to give them what they need because we want their property.
“That doesn’t fit very well with me.”
Quiring said a donation that would allow the group to replace their end-of-life furnaces, or add a lift and accessible washrooms wouldn’t inhibit the city’s chances of acquiring the building at a later date.
“As a gesture, it may be pretty nice to drift $500 to this group and let them have their furnaces fixed,” Quiring said.
After nearly 20 minutes of discussion, council voted to have the club come back with more details regarding the grant and their needs which would come back for consideration at the next meeting on March 22.