Carbonear’s federal summer grant program up in the air

By Chris Lewis | June 10, 2021

Summer grants in Carbonear are not a certainty this year.

Councillor David Kennedy, who is also a volunteer with the Town’s Minor Softball program, raised the issue at Tuesday’s public council meeting.

Kenney inquired about the progress of summer grant applications that provide summer employment to the town’s youth through federal funding.

Although most other places like churches and museums have already received their grant monies for the summer, the Town’s Economic Development and Tourism Officer, Kerri Abbott, said the Carbonear’s grant applications have only just left the local level and moved up to the federal level.

Both herself and the office of MP Ken McDonald have been making daily calls on the matter, she said, to try and get the process moving more quickly.

“The answer we get is that we’re in the review process,” Abbott said.

Kennedy replied that he took “great offense” to that.

He commended the Town’s recreation programs, citing them as some of the best in Conception Bay North, but wondered why Carbonear is one of the only municipalities in the region yet to receive its summer program grant money.

Kennedy said without this funding, he is certain the softball program he is involved with will not be able to continue this summer.

He said the Town’s applications were made well before the deadline back in February. The Town has been reaching out since April 28 to the official at Employment and Social Development Canada who oversees the funding, he added,

but those calls are being ignored.

Kennedy said MP McDonald’s office has also received no response.

“We’re now left, on June 8, with some programs starting in the next few weeks and we have no idea if we’re going to have any summer students. So what are we left with? We’re left with the possibility of 20 less students working this summer in the Town, two less programs we’ll have after children were just bound up in schools or online learning … By the time they get out to enjoy a summer recreation program, the Town might not be able to offer anything because of whatever happened with this,” Kennedy said. “I think that’s totally unacceptable … For her to not reply while other towns in the area have their grants, have (people) hired, and their programs ready to unveil in the next few weeks while we don’t even know if we have any … I won’t even comment what I think.”

Councillor Danielle Doyle said the Town has been investigated multiple times by the same government agency. These investigations, she said, included questions as to whether or not the Town was doing things right in the recreation programming and facilities.

She said the Town had never gotten anything back from that office following the investigations, so they were unaware if there were any issues that may have led to the lack of response regarding summer grant funding this year.

“Our children of our community look forward to that summer program every year,” she said.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Cynthia Davis clarified that the Town has not actually been refused, but the process seems to be taking longer than usual.

But Doyle was under the impression that anyone who had not received their summer grant funding at this point would not be getting any at all.

Abbott said the Town was not the only place on the list of Towns being reviewed, though, and noted the federal official had stated she was not returning calls to people who were not listed on individual applications, citing a confidentiality issue.

“So, when the MP’s office would call, he’s still not a representative of the Town of Carbonear at the end of the day,” Abbott said.

This, Kennedy said, sounded more like a cop out on the official’s part, stating that when he emailed on behalf of the Carbonear Softball Association he had received a response despite his name not being on any applications.

However, the response he received was only an apology for not returning other calls.

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