The regional service commission for the Charlotte County area is thinking about how and when to fund regional non-profit groups, but there likely won’t be money available for next year.
The Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission voted Aug. 24 to develop a policy for how to fund regional non-profit groups, after a request came in from the Charlotte County Archives for $50,000 to fund their work around the region.
“My concern is that it doesn’t look like a regional fund will be established for 2024,” Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson told Brunswick News Wednesday.
“I was a big believer in regionally trying to establish a fund because … if it’s benefiting the greater region, then we should be talking about, just like we are on a number of services, how is that being funded?” he said.
At their meeting, executive director Hollis Bartlett brought up the need for a policy to determine how and when to fund non-profit groups that come to the commission looking for support. Bartlett said they’ve been contacted by Charlotte County Archives, Charlotte County Ground Search and Rescue and the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre.
Charlotte County Archives chair Franklin Cardy said the non-profit, based at the Old Gaol in Saint Andrews, maintains thousands of documents and more than 25,000 photographs that tell the history of the area, and accepts submission of business and government records, which they document and preserve. Cardy said the archives is collecting material from around the region, and is in talks with McAdam to begin receiving more.
He said the group is a volunteer board and has no regular revenues, and is seeking a sustainable source of funding. The organization’s request, at a meeting in August, involved a third of funding in the amount of $50,000 from the RSC, which would go with a third from other government grants and a third from donation drives.
“We have to raise donations from individuals and wherever we can get it for staff,” Cardy said. “We still have some friends, loyal supporters, but there is only so much you can squeeze all your friends to fund these charities, so we’re looking for sustainable funding, and we think the regional services commissions … have a mandate to provide funding for regional services.”
At the meeting, mayors discussed the difficulty of having organizations that cover the whole community, including the islands and areas like McAdam and Fundy Shores, considered outside the traditional boundaries of Charlotte County.
“I truly believe that a lot of these organizations need to be funded, but is that the function of our organization?” Ken Stannix, McAdam mayor and commission chair, asked at the meeting. He said he’s “loath to take on another responsibility,” saying it could be a Pandora’s Box.
Grand Manan Mayor Bonnie Morse noted that the grant is bigger than grants that would be handed out in her municipality. Henderson noted that Saint Andrews’ budget for similar grants is $20,000.
St. Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern told Brunswick News last Thursday that he needs to know how residents and councillors feel about it, saying it’s a “big ask” for any community, saying there are a lot of requests that could have an impact in his community.
“I definitely see the value in what they’re doing, I’m just not sure how much for my municipality needs to go in that,” he said. “It’s a lot different from what we’re used to, when we combine our efforts that way, and it’s challenging.”
MacEachern said the new mandate of RSCs, which includes tourism and community development, includes “a lot of grey,” he said.
“We’re struggling on that with a lot of topics,” he said. “We’ve got to get some more solid lines on what the RSC’s responsibility is.”
Henderson said after a year, he has a slightly better idea of the group’s mandate, but the test in the next year following is “how well does it work?”
“There’s definitely some activities that people are looking forward to, but there’s also some concerns over, is this another level of government?” Henderson said. “That’s a question I get from residents all the time.”
Stannix said at the meeting that the group’s vote to continue exploring the policy is a “starting point” that has no money attached, and could be considered as part of next year’s budgeting process.
“We’re going to see that developed over the next year in hopes of having a fund for 2025,” Henderson said. “But if you’re the Charlotte County Archives … that’s another year where you’re having to make ends meet.”
Cardy said the group would be happy to receive whatever money would be awarded and would “keep working to get some more.”
“We would naturally cut our budget to whatever we think will be able to be raised,” he said. “We can only do what we get money and volunteers for.”
By Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Sep 11, 2023 at 06:21