The EFCL was dismayed to learn earlier this month that community leagues had been barred from taking part in a new city program to help non-profit organizations build capital facilities.
The program is entitled “Enhancing Community Facility Services Through Partnerships,” and is designed to provide up to 25% of the cost of capital facilities, to a maximum of $2 million per project. Plans call for the program to commence in 2011 with a pool of $5 million/year over three years.
The program will be targeted to groups in the area of recreation/amateur sport, multicultural/emerging immigrant services, social services, seniors, arts and heritage.
However, community leagues are to be specifically excluded as they continue to be governed under Policy C502 – Community League Grants 2004. This is the program through which each community league receives an operating grant of approximately $11,000/year.
This is the second time in recent months Edmonton’s 152 community leagues have been exempted or largely exempted from taking part in a new facility funding program.
Earlier this year, the City of Edmonton updated its Neighborhood Park Development Program (NPDP), which provided funding for organizations interested in developing facilities on city parkland. Unfortunately, a clause in this program excluded developments on land licensed to community leagues, which is where community leagues build most of their facilities (the most notable exception being playgrounds).
After learning of the latest program exemption, EFCL president David Gibbens quickly dispatched a letter to Edmonton City Council, noting the organization’s disappointment with the way each of these programs turned out. Gibbens noted that there was no mention of community leagues being exempted during the preparation of these programs and made the case that the community leagues are struggling like everyone else to build and renovate capital facilities. Community league tennis courts are a good example, where nearly half of the 34 courts built by leagues are in such a state of disrepair that they are unusable, he noted.
“A growing number of leagues are also looking to repair or replace outdoor rinks, change wading pools (which are now banned) into spray decks, install skateboard parks and either renovate or build a new hall, recognizing the age of much of the existing infrastructure, “ Gibbens said in his letter.
Not wanting to be lost in the shuffle, Gibbens suggested that city council pass the following motion at its meeting on Nov. 10.
“That the administration be directed to provide a report, no later than March 31, 2010, on the progress being made to develop a new program designed to help community leagues finance the construction and renovation of their halls and associated recreation facilities.”
After some discussion, city council approved the following motion, which was brought forward by Councillor Don Iveson and seconded by Councillor Ron Hayter:
That administration provide a report to Community Services Committee in the fall of 2010 with:
¨ An update on the progress being made on the Tripartite Agreement
¨ An update on the infrastructure assessment for community leagues
¨ Recommendations for a community league infrastructure strategy
The EFCL looks forward to discussions with the city on each of these matters and believes that it will have an opportunity this fall to determine whether the creation of a new program for leagues is still the way to go, or if the rules of the NPDP program and the Enhancing Community Facilities program should be changed to include community leagues.