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Non-profits on Vancouver Island snag $321,439 in community grants

Victoria’s arts community will get a small financial boost from a pair of grants that will fund projects on the stage and on the road.
Langham Court Theatre in Victoria is one of eight Island groups receiving community gaming grants from the province. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria’s arts community will get a small financial boost from a pair of grants that will fund projects on the stage and on the road.

Langham Court Theatre will receive $40,000 and the Victoria Ska and Reggae Society will pocket $35,261 in Community Gaming Grants, part of $3.87 million in grants announced Tuesday for 51 projects around the province.

In total, eight grants worth a combined $321,439 are being handed out on the Island.

The theatre, which cancelled its current season, will use the funding to help pay for improved sound and lighting systems and washroom upgrades, while the Ska Festival will use its cheque to purchase a new 15-passenger van.

The largest grant handed out on the Island is going to the Community Food Hub in the Comox Valley, which will receive $82,030 toward the purchase of an operations centre.

The group intends to buy a 2,200-square-foot property to establish a warehouse for its food access programs, with walk-in cooler, shelving and equipment.

Other grants on the Island are going to the Nanaimo-based Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, which will get $11,048 to develop a new user-friendly, mobile-friendly registration app for participants; the Cowichan Green Community Society, which will receive $48,000 for a new truck; the Eureka Support Society in Courtenay, which will use $44,500 to replace its building’s roof; and the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue Society in Qualicum Beach, which will get $34,460 to purchase technology to facilitate remote and online work, and to create a training centre at its new facility.

Also in Qualicum Beach, the Historical and Museum Society will receive $26,140 for a new climate-control system for the MacIntosh building. Lorraine Bell, museum co-ordinator, said the current air-circulation system is over 30 years old and urgently needs to be replaced.

“The Qualicum Beach Museum is a local gem that welcomes visitors from all over, and this will go a long way to improve the experience for visitors and staff,” said Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. “This is just one example of how we are supporting communities by helping organizations across the Island upgrade their facilities, technology, equipment and more.”

According to the province, this round of funding grants prioritized organizations that faced increased service pressures during the pandemic.

Niki Sharma, parliamentary secretary for community development, said many of the non-profit organizations have struggled with dwindling budgets as demand for their services increased.

“Throughout the pandemic, non-profits continued to stock food banks, provide essential services such as child care, and help vulnerable people in need,” Sharma said.

Many of the groups that applied for funds intend to make adjustments that support physical distancing and other measures to ensure services and activities meet public health and safety guidelines, the province said.

“Not-for-profit organizations are at the heart of fostering healthy, connected and safe communities in B.C.,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “This $3.8 million in extra funding will help organizations buy equipment and make renovations to brighten our communities and give people safer, improved access to key services and programs.”