Community grants program cuts reconsidered after outcry from organizations

A sigh of relief for Winnipeg community groups concerned about the amount of money available to them through the city’s community grants program.

A motion before city council proposed cutting the amount of money from $3.4 million to $1.3 million starting in 2025.

Additionally, under the new motion, grant money would no longer be used for annual operating costs, like salaries or insurance, but would be tied to a specific program.

Thursday, council voted to send the motion back to the executive policy committee for further discussion.

Mayor Scott Gillingham said the outcry from the community is partly responsible for the about-face.

“I think hearing from the organizations certainly has made a difference in this case, and when we’re trying to look at how we invest in front-line organizations, some of which are helping youth, for example, we want to make sure that we’re helping young people to get the services they need and activities they need as one way to make a dent in youth crime,” he said.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham speaks at a news conference at Winnipeg City Hall on June 27, 2024. (Jamie Dowsett/CTV News Winnipeg)

Now, work must be done to figure out where the money is coming from, since the city still faces a significant deficit, Gillingham said.

The vote comes after dozens took to the steps of Winnipeg City Hall Thursday morning to press councillors to reject the changes.

Eddie Ayoung, artistic director of Art City Inc., said the change would have ‘utterly destabilized’ all the affected community grant recipients that rely on those dollars to function.

“It would basically be like throwing a whole bag of marbles under the feet of every grassroots community organization doing work on the streets in Winnipeg,” he said.

Gillingham said one aspect of the motion is still on the table. He notes there still needs to be a new intake process to make sure money is flowing to applicants who meet the city’s strategic goals.

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