The City of Penticton has agreed to match South Okanagan Seniors Wellness Society’s fundraising up to $10,000 to help address the group’s 2012 budget shortfall.
Society executive director Kelly Smith said they hoped council would reconsider their grant request because they are ineligible for B.C. gaming grants until 2013. Having already cancelled their Seniors Symposium this year, the society would be forced to close their doors by October without $20,000 in more funding.
The society’s services are directed at the seniors of Penticton, and include personal visits, Tele-Friend, information and referral, support, elder abuse prevention workshops, monthly interest sessions and Caring Connections.
They had requested $40,000 from council, but received $20,000 after municipal budget deliberations — the same amount given to them in 2011 as council held the line on grant requests.
While construed as services that benefit seniors health, Smith said Interior Health only provides the society with $6,798 in funding and “That’s as much as they can give us.”
Coun. Garry Litke said that he agreed with how valuable the society’s work was, but mused about the city’s role in funding health services.
“My question is, ‘Who’s job is it?’” he said, suggesting later the society should “fire a shot over the bow” at the provincial government and Interior Health. “It’s their jurisdiction, and they’re not even funding it to the same level as the City of Penticton.”
Coun. Andrew Jakubeit said there was at least six months for the group to come up with the funds, and perhaps a matching grant by the city would entice donors to step forward. “I’m not against throwing some dollars at that,” he said.
Mayor Dan Ashton said that changing their minds “could open a can of worms for us,” since many non-profits are facing funding instability as a result of gaming grants. “We have made a substantial contribution to this organization over the years,” he said, adding that there was more time for the group to fundraise. “I don’t think the fuse has been lit.”
Council approved affording the society funds up to $10,000 according to how much they raise and have as cash in hand within six months.
Councillors Litke, Jakubeit and Wes Hopkin voted in favour, with Ashton and Coun. Helena Konanz opposed. Coun. John Vassilaki excused himself because of an indirect conflict of interest, and Coun. Judy Sentes was absent.