Kids in Motion’s Play Centre, which first opened its doors in November 2016, is struggling with no source of sustainable funding.
Bright yellow flyers with the message “Save the Play Centre” have been sprinkled throughout Port McNeill, also stating that the Play Centre is $4,000 short this year.
“Essentially, since we started the Play Centre, we have never collected enough revenue from user fees for it to be sustainable,” said Matt Martin, president of the non-profit society Kids in Motion, which runs the Play Centre. “We have to make up the difference between our operating costs and revenue through fundraising.”
He said since the posters were distributed, Kids in Motion has decided to cancel their summer camp this year in order to utilize the money set aside for the camp to save the Play Centre for a few more months.
Martin said the Makerspace and the Play Centre are the priority because they were “funded through donations from local businesses and individuals,” whereas the summer camp was funded through government grant money.
“A lot of people in the last few days have voiced that they want to help fundraise or donate money which is great,” said Martin, adding, “But from our perspective, a lot of communities have municipalities that will fund recreation programs or groups.”
Martin said when Kids in Motion started in March 2016, the Town of Port McNeill donated $500 to the non-profit. He added they have since asked the town for more funding but haven’t received anything further.
In December of 2017, Kids in Motion and a few other non-profit societies in Port McNeill stood together and sent out a letter to council requesting that the town adopt a grant funding policy that would “Outline the total grant funding available, the details about the process for choosing recipients, deadline for applications, and the reports due back to the town.”
At that time, Council agreed to direct staff to research setting up a municipal grant funding policy.
“It hasn’t come back to council, but we are in the process of setting up a grant-in-aid policy and a donation policy,” said Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland.
Ackland went on to explain that typically grant-in-aid is for town-owned buildings, and the town does not currently have a set amount for donations.
“It was a good request that we have a clear policy, and we certainly look to have that in place going forward,” said Ackland, noting council will address the issue again in either mid-May or early June.
Martin said he understands that the town has many different priorities, but he would like clarity on how exactly the municipal grant funding process works.
“Our goal is that we just want this to be a good place for our children and other people’s children to be brought up in,” said Martin, adding, “We saw some gaps and wanted to make Port McNeill better.”
Martin said while they appreciate the support from the community, there is only so much energy that can go around.
“We want to provide these things but at the same time we need money, and to me, it seems unsustainable the amount of energy people put into fundraising.”
He added they are not short on ideas to fundraise for more money, “what we are short on is the capacity to do that.”
He said the vision for the Play Centre and the Makerspace was to build it because it was something needed and appreciated “And build it to a point where it could be incorporated into some sort of community space, for example, maybe having it co-located with the library, or if Port McNeill had a multi-use recreational centre.”
Martin said he hopes they can keep going until that vision is realized.
“What we are told from people is that the space and what we do is really appreciated,” said Martin. “People have described it as becoming an integral part of their lives. We are hopeful but the issues are definitely real.”