OPINION: Building sustainable communities

Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen. (AARON SIVERTSON; Sightlines Photograph)

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This week, the Manitoba government announced good news that local non-profit and community agencies will want to learn more about. On Thursday, the Minister of Municipal Relations launched our new “Building Sustainable Communities Program” which will provide grants for eligible projects across the province to non-profit and charitable organizations, municipalities, and other groups.
Previously in Manitoba, groups who were seeking financial support from provincial government were applying under seven distinct granting programs. I heard again and again from community groups who described the application process as complex, confusing and requiring significant paperwork. In fact, from time to time, groups in Morden-Winkler would express to me that they were unable to receive funding because they missed something in the application form or missed a deadline. You can imagine the confusion around slightly different application processes, eligibility rules, matching requirements and cut-off dates.
We listened.
The new Building Sustainable Communities Program responds to these concerns by combining several granting programs into one, reducing red-tape and duplication for both applicants and government. Our new program will provide up to a maximum of $75,000 per eligible project, which must be no more than 50% of project costs. We know that across our communities there are groups and organizations that work hard every day to respond to the needs of our citizens, build thriving sustainable communities, and just make life better. These groups want to spend their time doing the work that truly matters to them – not filling out paperwork in the back room. We are convinced that this streamlined application approach will be well received by Manitobans, whether they are looking for support to build capacity, initiate local action, invest capital for community, culture, and recreation development, or enhance community facilities and spaces.
The Building Sustainable Communities Program is just another example of how we are cooperating with community partners. Please note that the first intake for projects is now open and will close on May 22, 2019 followed by a second intake in the fall. Stop by the Morden-Winkler constituency office to learn more about program guidelines, or visit www.gov.mb.ca/grants/pdf/bsc-guidelines.pdf.
Also this week, the Manitoba government announced Enhanced Basket Funding for Municipalities, adding an extra $10 million to the unconditional funding baskets of municipal governments to address their infrastructure needs. The cities of Morden and Winkler and the RM of Stanley will all receive additional funding as a result of this latest investment. This additional funding is unconditional and gives the control to local governments to decide how best to invest provincial infrastructure funding.