Providers lobby for gaming grant

The new chair of BCACG's grant program review held a videoconference in Port McNeill last week.

PORT McNEILL — The new chair of the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming’s grant program review faced a small audience during a videoconference here last week.

But he still received an earful.

Michelle Hess of the Sointula Resource Centre Society and Kate Pinsonneault of the North Island Early Child Development Society were the only attendees of the conference, held at Community Futures Mount Waddington’s conference room.

They alternately lobbied and responded to questions from Leslie “Skip” Triplett, who was named in July to head the BCACG’s review of its gaming grant program. After holding several public meetings in larger communities, Triplett was taking part in his first videoconference related to the gaming grant review.

“My mandate is broad,” Triplett told the women. “And the first part of it is to make sure the government has a clear idea of the value recipients offer as it decides how to use scarce resources.”

The three discussed multi-year funding, streamlining of the grant application and renewal process, restoring funding to adult arts and sports groups, and using software to set up a self-reporting system.

But when Triplett asked how the women felt about the BCACG changing the category system currently used to distribute money across various provider types, Hess and Pinsonneault quickly steered the subject back to the critical need for gaming grant funds in smaller communities.

“We have a broad mandate, and we’re terribly understaffed,” said Pinsonneault, whose organization provides child care, early childhood education and parent instruction and counseling. “There’s no way we can survive without gaming grant funding.”

Pinsonneault went on to point out the challenges of fund-raising in an area where the same small group of donors is approached by every organization in need of funds.

“We’re all hitting up the same people who have been hit economically themselves.”

Hess represents the only society on Malcolm Island that provides clients services in job searching and networking, free computer access and access to a range of government programs, as well as providing tourist brochures and other visitor information services. Like Pinsonneault, she said her society could not survive without gaming grant funds.

“We could not keep our doors open,” Hess said. “And if we close, it’s not like people go up the road to the next provider. We’re the only game in town.”

Triplett acknowledged their concerns, and left the women with an encouraging note.

“When I was in Vancouver I talked to people from larger organizations and at least a half-dozen current and former MLAs,” he said. “The big boys and girls said, ‘Be careful of the smaller communities, because they don’t have as many resources.’

“Just be aware, you’re on peoples’ minds.”