Community Incentive Grants (CIG) are meant for enhancing public facilities. They mostly support community centres, school playgrounds, churches, curling clubs and the like. City councillors usually use these funds for projects in or near their wards.
Recently, eight of 15 councillors committed $105,000 in Community Incentive Grants to the Lyle Street Habitat Project in St. James. Yet, a city Administrative Report recommended against using CIGs to support the Habitat Project, citing these grants are not meant to assist the construction of private homes.
The city sold this surplus land for $650,000. Now, some councillors want to subsidize the purchaser of the land even though concessions could have been accomplished simply by decreasing the sale price of the land.
Is this taxpayer transparency?
The last three mayors continually asked the province for more money to provide city services. One wonders if the city would have more money for core services if they stopped funding projects that are clearly a provincial responsibility.
How do the non-area councillors justify funding this project while turning down projects in their own wards? Since the 2014 election, there have been numerous CIG requests.
The eight councillors need to provide a list of all CIG requests, and the amounts of money granted. Valley Garden Community Centre (Elmwood), and Dalhousie School (St. Norbert) are recent examples of CIG recipients that could have deservedly used more funding.
What are the people of St. James supposed to think of the sudden generosity of these non-area councillors?
Non-area councillors have been less than sympathetic to concerns of St. James residents, including the development of this property, the Parkview Street in-fill housing issue, and safety concerns at Ness and Mount Royal.
Will these non-area councillors commit to the preservation of the much needed recreational field between the Habitat homes and the community club?
These grants have to be approved by full council. I hope council denies the approval of these grants which are clearly a violation of their own guidelines.
It is a golden opportunity for the current council to improve City Hall credibility.
As a post script: on Tue. Mar. 7, 2017, the Property Committee is considering a Habitat request to temporarily lease city owned land just north of the Habitat development in order to construct ‘ready to move’ homes. Does it make sense to build new homes on one site and move them to another?
My biggest concern is that the construction of ready to use homes on this site will temporarily decommission a much needed soccer field during the summer soccer season.