Community organizations will receive promised lottery funds, minister says
BY WENDY MCLELLAN, THE PROVINCE
AUGUST 23, 2009
The freeze on millions of dollars in grants to community organizations has quietly thawed.
The money, which is drawn from the province’s revenue from gambling, had been promised months ago to thousands of charities. But in July, the Liberal government acknowledged the gaming grants had been halted and were under review.
Last week, two days after the NDP held a press conference to highlight the plight of organizations — including the Vancouver International Children’s Festival and little league teams — that had already spent their gaming grant money and were anxiously awaiting the cheques, the minister responsible for the programs told a Kamloops radio reporter the freeze had been lifted and the cheques would be issued.
“The arts and culture groups will be receiving their money in short order,” Rich Coleman, B.C.’s social development minister told CHNL Radio.
In total, B.C. charities are to receive $159 million in gaming grants this year. The government hasn’t stated how much of the money had been distributed before the freeze.
Neither the charities nor the association representing B.C. non-profit organizations that receive money from gaming revenue received notice from the government about the freeze, or the later release of the grant money.
“While we’re thankful the funds will be released, this is not new money,” said Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming. “Much of it had already been committed to charities that felt they had a solid agreement with government.”
She noted that the province collected nearly $2 billion in revenue from gaming last year, and the money promised to charities represents less than eight per cent of it.
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