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REPORTING · 25th May 2010
Walter McFarlane

Over the last two meetings, their has been quite some discussion over the Grant Writer which Kitimat City Council wishes to hire and this subject fills the career of Acting Mayor Rob Goffinet.

The introduction of the Grant Writer position goes back to 2009. Twas the Council before Christmas and Mayor Joanne Monaghan had a motion she wished to make. Monaghan needed to remove herself from chairing the meeting and Goffinet took over.

“I would like to move my motion that we spend $2,500 in funds we received from Eurocan to leverage a $7,500 grant from the [Northern Development Initiative Trust] to hire a Grant Writer,” said Monaghan.

Councillor Richard McLaren stated the Council had a conference call where Monaghan was encouraged to create this position on the grounds it would be really productive.

Councillor Feldhoff was also in favour of creating the position. Although he stated: the District of Kitmat staff have done a good job in the past of finding and listing different grants in the past, it would not hurt to spend the money to bring in this Grant Writer. He cited the worst case scenario as the person looks and finds Council is already receiving all the Grants they could obtain.

Councillor Randy Halyk saw this as an opportunity to organize the grant writing. He expressed if the grant writing was overseen by the same department, they would be able to look at the larger picture.

Opposed to the idea was Municipal Manager Trafford Hall. “This item continues to come back continuously,” said Hall.

He explained when Mackenzie experienced their mill closure, they brought in a grant writer who applied for a grant for community and transition funding. However, this grant and it’s funding have been eliminated. The experience can not be repeated.

He explained Martin Gould, Tim Gleig and Diane Hewlett were the ones who applied for the grants at the District offices. “These grants are highly technical in nature and there is no way that someone from the outside is going to come in and be able to come in and write any grants that are due priorities for the District of Kitimat,” said Hall.

He also explained the District writes for millions of dollars worth of grants for which they are eligible and put in dozens of hours. However, they do not get much of this money.

“Our issue is we don’t need additional staff to focus specifically on finding grants for the municipality, our issue is that we don’t have funding now after those grants have been written and applied to,” said Hall.

He pointed out the Council had already had this discussion in camera a few weeks before the meeting. He told them the previous time it was Walter McLellan speaking, and now Hall was saying the same thing, as the Mackenzie Example could not be repeated and occurred under different circumstances.

Hall added the grants are limited and the priorities were covered and having the Grant writer, would complicate system as they would have to work with three other people who write grants and the administrative burden had already “shot through the roof” and they are looking at downsizing staff.

“We think this is counter productive,” said Hall.

Monaghan disagreed because they were using money to get more money which would get even more money. She added the burden on administration would increase and this person would improve it. She suggested if there was no chance of repeating the success in Mackenzie, the NDIT would not have recommended putting aside the money.

Feldhoff could not see the job position as disrupting what the other departments were doing although it would take cooperation. He also cautioned the staff not to release information from an in camera meeting which had not been released to the public.

Councillor Bob Corless wanted to know how they went about hiring a grant writer. He searched for the position online and could not find qualifications or careers for the position. He expected they would have to spend more money to bring them to Kitimat. Monaghan said she was told NDIT would help them.

McLaren clarified the information. Halyk added he took a grant writing course. He found the course to be all about how to fill out forms and asking questions. Most of the organizations who offer grants allow people to ask questions about those grants. Halyk figured there would be grants out there which the Municipality could apply for even if they were not interested in them.

Goffinet called the question and it was carried unanimously. He gave the chair back to Monaghan and Council carried on.