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Parks and rec ensures pandemic doesn’t wipe out provincial funding for groups

The Saskatchewan Lotteries’ Community Grant Program provided $140,298.10 to the city for the development of community programs from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
Moose Jaw City Hall
Moose Jaw City Hall (Shutterstock)

With funding from Saskatchewan Lotteries at risk due to the pandemic, the parks and recreation department will review all community grant applications to determine what programs or events could still happen.

The Saskatchewan Lotteries’ Community Grant Program provided $140,298.10 to the City of Moose Jaw for the development of recreation, sport and cultural programs in the community from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Of that funding, the parks and rec department had approved $60,126.70 for programs and events to occur this spring and summer.

However, the pandemic has forced the cancellation — or threatens the cancellation — of those activities. As per Saskatchewan Lotteries’ policy, communities must return any unused funds they didn’t give out during the 12 months.

During its May 25 regular meeting, city council unanimously approved a motion to have the parks and recreation department reallocate — on a case by case basis — the Sask. Lotteries grant funding that the pandemic had affected. The department will determine if alternative programs and events can replace the previously approved initiatives.

Council discussion

The department has contacted some of the groups that had plans for this spring and summer, Scott Osmachenko, recreation services manager, told council. Those groups — many of which still face unknown futures — won’t have to go through another application process, but they will learn how parks and rec could reallocate the funding.

Any unused money must go back to Saskatchewan Lotteries, which didn’t sit well with Coun. Chris Warren, who is a member of the parks and recreation advisory committee. He pointed out that groups that apply for funding from the department don’t always receive what they requested since there are only so many municipal dollars available.

He wondered if the department would reallocate more unused funds to specific programs and give the groups the full amount they had requested.

“Obviously, I want that money to be used,” he added.

“We would look at the applications, and again, we do have some requirements related to how much money is spent on partner groups and how much money is spent on special events,” said Osmachenko. “So we would have to follow those guidelines and criteria. We are definitely looking at reaching out to the groups to ask them what their intent was.”

The parks and rec department can provide council with an updated list of which groups will receive the Saskatchewan Lotteries funding, he added. The organization has indicated it will not provide an extension and allow communities to use the funding beyond the March 31, 2021 deadline. The organization will likely reduce the amount of funding it provides next year due to the effects of the pandemic this year.

The next regular council meeting is Monday, June 8.