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Number of North Okanagan groups denied provincial gaming grants grows

FILE PHOTO - The Upper Room Mission, which serves around 300 meals a day, was denied its request for a $100,000 gaming grant.
May 05, 2016 - 1:05 PM


VERNON - More local non-profit agencies are coming forward about perceived changes in the way the province hands out community gaming grants, and the negative effect it could have on their orgainizations.

At least three groups in the North Okanagan were denied grants that have consistently been approved in previous years, while two more have been warned not to depend on the grant in the future.

Impacts are already being felt at the Upper Room Mission, where services were cut after the non-profit learned it was denied a requested $100,000 gaming grant.

Another organization, Nexus B.C., was forced to make cuts and lay off staff after its $45,000 application was denied. Meanwhile, the John Howard Society of the North Okanagan received a grant, but was warned not to bank on the funding in the future.

Now, the Enderby and District Community Resource Centre is confirming it too was denied a grant, and the Vernon Women’s Transition House, which uses gaming grants for three different programs, did get funding for this year but has been told it may not receive the money in the future. Both organizations have been receiving gaming grants for a number of years.

Lynn Belsher, the executive director at Nexus B.C., says it was a shock to find out in mid-February the grant application had been denied. As with other organizations, she says they were told the service wasn’t considered to be meeting the criteria of providing a ‘community-wide benefit.’

“It just seems bizarre to me, because you are providing a direct benefit,” Belsher says.

Nexus B.C. would normally use the grant to fund a program that recruits and connects volunteers with other non-profit agencies in the community. Now, that program has been scrapped and two employees laid off. Nexus B.C. and the Enderby and District Community Resource Centre have both filed appeals asking the province to take another look at their rejected applications.

“The criteria hasn’t changed, so something did change within the last year to create the opportunity for all these denials,” Belsher says.

But the man in charge of the ministry that oversees community gaming grants says nothing has changed.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Peter Fassbender said in a written response the process remains the same and government has not shifted the way it awards grants. He said organizations always have the opportunity to submit a request for reconsideration. Out of 407 grant applications received from the Okanagan region, 370 were approved this year and 37 were denied. Those numbers could change based on reconsiderations.  

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster was not available for an interview.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
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