Winnipeg mayor delays vote on cut to community grants program

Winnipeg city councillors will reconsider proposed changes to a community grants program that would have cut available money by more than half and disqualified operational funding.

A city report recommended cutting the program’s funding from $3.4 million to $1.3 million, limiting grants to specific projects and excluding core funding for organizations. 

Groups that have received funding through the program include BGC Winnipeg (formerly the Boys and Girls Club), Resource Assistance for Youth, the Downtown Community Safety Partnership, End Homelessness Winnipeg, Art City, Graffiti Art Programming and Take Pride Winnipeg.

Representatives of some of those organizations and their supporters rallied Thursday outside city hall, where councillors were gathering for a meeting that included a vote on the grant program.

The crowd erupted in cheers when, minutes before meeting started, Art City executive director Eddie Ayoub announced the mayor had agreed to reconsider the plan.

“You actually did this. Your support made this happen. It works, it really works … all the emails, showing up, all of it,” Ayoub told the crowd.

Gillingham, speaking to a delegate during the council meeting, confirmed he would reconsider the cut. A motion will be brought forward during the meeting to table the report, which will then go back to the next executive policy committee meeting.

The mayor and other councillors have said the changes were necessary to control the city’s deficit, which a financial update earlier this year projected could be up to $40 million.

Gillingham has also said the changes are being made to give city staff the ability to review grant applications and approve those that best align with its guiding documents, and give groups that have not received city funding a chance to apply.