District considers $175,000 in Grant in Aid requests

Trent Ernst, Editor

At the March 3 special meeting, town Council considered $175,450 in Grant in Aid and Fee For Service Requests for 2016.

The District of Tumbler Ridge currently is providing $409,700 in Fee for Services to ten different groups for 2016, including $200,000 for the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, $58,500 for the Chamber of Commerce, and $55,000 to the TR Days Society/Grizfest.

For 2016, an additional $175,450 is being requested from four groups. Three of those requests are one-time only grant-in-aid requests, while the fourth is a Fee For Service Application.

Of the requests, the single largest is for $100,000 for a new groomer for the TR Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club.

Snowmobiling is one of the biggest draws to the Tumbler Ridge area, and the Ridge Riders have been extremely active over the last few years. In 2015, the club purchased a bus to use as a warming shelter in the Babcock area. The club built a new warming shelter in the Wolverine riding area.

Earlier this season, the club received tenure for the Wolverine and Bullmoose riding areas. In order to improve the riding in these areas, they are hoping to purchase a new groomer to help maintain these areas.

“Our 1974 groomer is stationed at the Babcock area and requires a local company to move from one riding area to another,” says President Randy Cutler in his submission letter. “It has been a struggle for the club.”

Because of this, only the Babcock area is regularly groomed. “However, the club still has not received tenure [for this area] writes Cutler, “a lot to do with caribou habitat.”

Now that they’ve been granted tenure, says Cutler, the club is looking at stepping up their game, by purchasing a new groomer and drag to groom the area.

They’ve raised money towards this by selling maps, but they are hoping the District will help them cover the cost of the new groomer.

The Grizzly Valley Saddle Club is looking for $22,950. $17,000 of this would be for new fencing for the paddocks and pens, while the rest of it would be used to kick-start a fall fair for the Tumbler Ridge area. “There used to be a fall fair,” says president Jennifer Marsel, “we would love to try and bring it back.” She says after the Pumpkin Patch last year, about fifty people came through the Saddle Club. “It would have been so great to have them come to another event.”

The club has some money set aside for emergency repairs, but does not have the funds to repair pens and fences in a timely manner in order to open the club to more community involvement.

The club has had numerous requests for increased programming for youth as well as opportunities to create new areas for chickens and cattle. They are hoping to move to meet these needs, but need to put work in to upgrade the facilities.

Councillor Mackay points out that a similar request has been made of the Community Forest. He’s wondering if that grant comes through, how will it affect this request? Wall says he will follow up with the Saddle Club.

The third Grant in Aid request comes from TR CARES on behalf of the Work in Progress Program for $7500 for the Good Food Box.

This program, in conjunction with United Way and Shop Easy Foods, has been running for the last few years in Tumbler Ridge. The Key goal of the program is to engage youth and adults with disabilities in work “that is rewarding to themselves and the community.”

The program also gives the community the opportunity to buy fresh produce at discounted prices. The money would go to continue maintaining this program, as the need to provide healthy foods at a lower cost has grown since the mines shut down, says program coordinator Angela Robertson. “We have seen the number of clients increase considerably since the start of the program,” she writes in her submission. “It makes eating healthier easier and more affordable.”

Finally, the Tumbler Ridge Youth Services Society is looking for a Fee For Service agreement with the District. The organization began in 1987 with the mission of ‘empowering youth to make healthy choices for today and tomorrow.’

The society maintains the Tumbler Ridge Youth Centre, which is open in the afternoons and evenings five days a week. It is a safe, healthy environment for local youths to hang out at. The society also does special programming, with wide games like KGP, skiing and snowboarding trips, dances, movie nights, pool tournaments and the annual wake-a-thon fundraisers.

The Fee For Service request would be applied to the operating costs of the centre, specifically for the coordinator’s salary, honoraria for adult and student volunteers, to pay insurance costs, and to provide increased activities for local youth. “With the downturn in the local economy, the youth, more than ever, need a place to be and healthy, economical activities to pursue,” writes board Vice-President Roxanne Gulick in the submission. “At a time when most families and youth have significantly reduced spending money, usual recreational activities cannot be accessed, increasing the need for the Centre.”

In the 2015-2016 year, there have been 137 regular attendees. “These statistics continue to represent a large percentage of the youth in TR,” says Gulick. “Tumbler Ridge Secondary School has 136 students registered, and 105 of them regularly attend the Centre.”

These numbers go up for special events.

A drop-in fee count has been implemented, says Gulick, but many youth do not have the funds to pay. “The TRYSS board members feel strongly that the Centre needs to be accessible to all youth living or visiting Tumbler Ridge.”

The teens do fundraise for additional items, like furniture and new games for the Xbox 360 system, but last year, the youth decided that a significant percentage of the net proceeds of their Wake-a-Thon should be donated to the TR Foodbank.

The final decision on these applications will be made at the March 31 meeting.