Funding gap forces Green Action Centre to reduce hours, programming

With its funding first delayed, and now reduced, Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre says it is facing an uncertain future.

Province providing only half of regular funding to Winnipeg environmental non-profit this year

The Green Action Centre runs several programs aimed at sustainable living, including ones focusing on active transportation and reducing greenhouse gases. This year, the province has told the non-profit it won't be receiving any funding for delivery of those programs. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

With its funding first delayed, and now reduced, Winnipeg's Green Action Centre is facing an uncertain future.

The organization focuses on educating people on practical, simple and effective ways to live environmentally friendly. 

But seven months into the fiscal year, the non-profit still hasn't received its provincial funding, and recently found out it will only be getting half of what it usually gets from the province, said Tracy Hucul, the centre's executive director. 

"At a time when climate and the climate emergency is something that people are talking about more than ever, and that we should be taking … more seriously than ever before, it doesn't seem appropriate that all of a sudden there'd be less funding for the groups who are out there really trying to do that work," she said. 

The Green Action Centre usually receives $100,000 for its organics diversion program, which focuses on teaching people how to compost and reduce waste, and $100,000 for its sustainable transportation programs.

This year, the province told the centre it will only get the $100,000 for the organics diversion programming.

The change comes after the province said it plans to transition to an "outcomes-based" funding model for organizations like the Green Action Centre.

"The province is putting in place a new applications-based grant portal that will begin in the next fiscal year," a provincial government spokesperson said in a statement Friday, making the current fiscal year a "transitional" one. 

The province's climate office "will be working with the Green Action Centre to transition to an outcomes-based system under the agreement currently being negotiated and through the new grants portal next fiscal year," the province said.

Programming, staff reduced 

Hucul said she's not opposed to that approach, but says she would have liked more clarity on what that means for her organization in the interim.

"What are organizations supposed to do in that interim year, when they're used to having a certain amount of funding to do their programs and then they don't know that it's not coming?"

The Green Action Centre typically delivers hundreds of presentations a year on sustainable transportation, educating people on how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Without the $100,000 for its sustainable transportation program, it won't be able to do that, Hucul said. 

She said the Green Action Centre has already had to lay off a staff member this week and has reduced some staff hours.

With files from Up to Speed