“At the end of the day, it might be more effective if there is a way to make a donation to help somebody from Ukraine settle in the regional district if we knew about a way to do that.” ~ City of Powell River director and finance committee chair George Doubt
qathet Regional District’s finance committee will discuss the prospect of allocating some grant-in-aid funding to the Ukraine relief effort.
At the April 28 regional district board meeting, Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall suggested that the board forward consideration of a $6,000 grant-in-aid to the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine humanitarian crisis appeal, with $1,000 from each electoral area’s grants-in-aid service, and $1,000 from the general grants-in-aid service to the May 18 finance committee meeting. There was also a recommendation that the board receive a report titled financial assistance to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, dated April 22, 2022.
Fall said the suggestion is outside of the regional board’s normal working arrangements.
“The report really shows the need is high, the request is for higher than we have, so we are going to be struggling anyway,” said Fall. “We are only likely to be able to consider a single contribution for Ukraine if we do decide this year.
“The need is urgent, but the urgency is going to be there in two or three weeks or a month anyway, so the timing is less important. It might be simplest to consider this idea at the same time as the other requests, at which time we will be making necessary adjustments to balance the total amount budgeted for our grants-in-aid services with the amounts requested, and how much we want to hang onto for the second intake.”
Fall said one reason he suggested $1,000 from each electoral area is in part to help with a balancing process.
“If the idea is okay we can adjust them at the meeting if it comes down to it,” said Fall. “Considering this at the finance committee would also allow us to decide if we prefer to try to help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, which are very high, such as contributing to the Red Cross, or to help refugees arriving in BC. We can have that discussion. I’m not fixed on one of them, I just thought that putting this forward, it would show up on the agenda and then we can have a debate on specific terms of this idea.”
Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he did not have objections to discussing the matter at finance committee but he didn’t like the $1,000 from each electoral area’s grants-in-aid service.
“I would like to consider when it comes before the assembly in May, rather than the Red Cross, to also consider firefighting aid Ukraine, which is the organization that is handling the transportation of our supplies,” said Gisborne. “Doing a direct donation to the Red Cross goes a little bit beyond what grants-in-aid are intended for.”
Tough decisions coming, says city director
City director George Doubt, who chairs the finance committee, said Fall’s suggestion kicks the decision down the road.
“We are still in a situation, except for Electoral Area E grant-in-aid service, where this will leave every one of those grant funds over-subscribed,” said Doubt. “The board will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to the May grants-in-aid allocation process. We are going to have to grant fewer or come up with some money somewhere. We are probably going to have to grant fewer than the requests that are all there.
“It’s sensible to look at all aspects of the amount at the finance committee in May and consider the right place to use the funds. At the end of the day, it might be more effective if there is a way to make a donation to help somebody from Ukraine settle in the regional district if we knew about a way to do that. We can discuss that at the finance committee meeting.”
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick asked if it would be possible for the finance committee to get a list of what the options are in providing aid, whether it’s assisting a family locally, providing to the firefighting group, or the Red Cross.
“Could we at least find out what the choices are?” asked McCormick. “It would make our discussion much more focused on finding the right solution.”
Manager of financial services Linda Greenan said staff can conduct some research for a list of options.
The board voted to receive the report on financial assistance and to forward the grants-in-aid proposal to the finance committee.