THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay’s city council has approved over $2.9 million in funding for local non-profits through the Community, Youth & Cultural Funding Program, with some agencies seeing significant changes to their allocations.
The Shelter House, for example, will receive over $100,000 less than it did last year, with the city citing the cancellation of its Street Outreach Service (SOS) program as the main reason.
The shelter’s sustaining grant will be $319,600 in 2023, down from $430,000 and well below its request for half a million dollars.
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery and the Community Auditorium, meanwhile, will each see large increases in their sustaining grants, which are provided to 10 organizations deemed to be "integral to [the city's] identity."
The art gallery will receive $308,800, up by nearly $40,000, to help it build capacity as it prepares to expand to a new, larger waterfront location. The gallery says the added funds will help cover the cost of adding an Indigenous curator and part-time visitor services position.
The Community Auditorium will receive $833,100, with the $75,000 increase chalked up to the implementation of a new arms-length relationship with the city.
The Community, Youth & Cultural Funding Program will support a total of 18 organizations in 2023, with the rest seeing their allocations remain largely stable.
Other major recipients of sustaining grants include the Thunder Bay Museum ($471,300), Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra ($244,700), Magnus Theatre ($143,150), Thunder Bay Boys and Girls Club ($123,400), and the Regional Food Distribution Association ($103,500).
Applications to the program are reviewed by teams made up of city staff and some citizen representatives, and can be appealed to a committee made up of city councillors.
Coun. Andrew Foulds, who sits on that committee along with Couns. Mark Bentz, Brian Hamilton, and Mayor Ken Boshcoff, spoke to one of three appeals filed in relation to this year’s funding.
The Northern Nishnawbe Education Council (NNEC), which operates Dennis Franklin Cromarty school, filed an appeal over the rejection of an application to support the Wake the Giant music festival, which the city said was mostly to cover the use of a festival stage and part of production costs.
The appeals committee upheld the decision not to award funding, but recommended the city allocate $15,000 through its Indigenous relations office to support Wake the Giant orientation activities welcoming students who largely hail from remote First Nations to the city.
“This was one of the appeals the committee really struggled over,” Foulds said. “Let’s be clear, we all feel that this organization does phenomenal work, but both the administrative and citizen committee and the appeals committee felt like the request didn’t really fit within the model [of] this program.”
Council approved the teams' recommendations at a meeting on Monday, and the committee's decision on the three appeals.
In two other decisions, the committee rejected an appeal from the New Directions Speakers School workers resource centre, which was declined for funding after receiving $15,000 last year, but granted one from People Advocating for Change through Empowerment (PACE) after the organization submitted additional information to support its $30,000 request.
The CYC program will cost the city roughly the same as last year, when it also awarded around $2.9 million in funding.
The program, created in 2007, provides sometimes crucial support through the sustaining grants, which account for over half of the museum's total operating budget, and more than a quarter for others like the art gallery and Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
Its operating grants provide lower levels of assistance to organizations like the Lakehead Social Planning Council, Community Clothing Assistance, and Roots Community Food Centre.
The program will also offer $47,600 in one-time project grants, which are still to be allocated.
Foulds noted Monday the program comes with significant oversight, with recipients asked to demonstrate need and share information like audited financial statements with the city.
“Citizens should feel comfortable that this [funding] is going to good, solid, accountable organizations,” he said.
Full details of the 2023 funding allocations and requests are available online as part of Monday's council agenda.