New Brunswick

Fredericton accepts late grant applicants, leaving Botanic Garden out of luck

Fredericton Botanic Gardens may be left without funding from the city in 2020, after councillors decided to accept late applications for community funding grants.

Some councillors argue against making exceptions for late applicants

Fredericton Coun. Stephen Chase said he's surprised council considered not providing funding to the Fredericton Botanic Garden. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Fredericton Botanic Gardens may be left without funding from the city in 2020, after councillors decided to accept late applications for community funding grants.

Council voted on how to delegate grant funding on Monday night as part of the city's annual budget process.

The city will be dividing $265,000 in grant money among 18 local organizations, including the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and York Sunbury Historical Society. 

The community funding grants are meant to encourage the growth and stability of non-profit organizations in the city.  

City staff received 26 applications for funding before the Oct. 11 deadline, but three organizations — the New Brunswick African Association, Shivering Songs and the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra — submitted late applications. 

Staff presented council with two options.

The first option included a $2,500 grant for the Botanic Garden and nothing for the three late applicants. The second option included nothing for the Botanic Garden and grants ranging from $4,500 to $22,000 for the latecomers.

To accommodate the tardy applicants, other groups getting grants would receive slightly less under Option 2 than under Option 1. 

There was no explanation on the staff report for why Botanic Gardens was singled out to not get a grant under the second option.

The Fredericton Botanic Garden, which had not requested a grant for 2019, is still eligible to apply for an arts and culture grant in 2020. Funding through that program is also limited, and there's no guarantee the application will be successful.

Five councillors voted in favour of accepting the three late applications.

Rogers sympathetic to late applicants

Coun. Kate Rogers said she appreciates deadlines, but she's also sensitive to community groups that rely on funding. 

"Some of them aren't even staffed," Rogers said.

"Some of them are run on the backs of volunteers. If they miss the posting, it might not have registered to them that that was the deadline." 

Councillors Stephen Chase and Eric Megarity voted against ignoring the deadline and were surprised that giving the late applicants money would leave nothing for the Botanic Gardens. 

Budget vote in December

"A deadline is a deadline," Chase said, adding the application process should be remedied so council can avoid voting to allow late submissions in future years.

He said the Botanic Garden is an integral part of the city's parks.

"To see that there's nothing provided in these community grants, and that it's contingent on the arts and cultural budget giving them whatever they might get, frankly I'm astounded." 

Council will vote on the 2020 budget at its Dec. 16 meeting. 

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