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City of Nanaimo guarantees support for barnyard

Nanaimo’s summertime petting barn has roped-in three years of guaranteed city funding.

Nanaimo city council unanimously voted  this week to give the Cedar 4H Club $12,000 over the next three years, to help run a unique eight-week Beban Park barnyard program.

The move, aimed at recognizing the community value of the agricultural initiative, is welcomed by barnyard supervisor Linda Barnett, who says she’s pleased city politicians consider it worthwhile. The guaranteed funding is a reversal from the city’s earlier bid to wean the group off the public purse and will be a “building block” for fundraising efforts needed to keep the barn open.

But Barnett also can’t help but wonder what happens when the grant expires. The city will review funding options in 2018.

“When a program is near and dear to you and you feel it has value – and you don’t want to lose it – then you have to think ahead,” she said. “Where do we go three years from now? Are we back at Square 1 again?”

The petting farm and summer employment program grappled with financial issues since the city announced in 2012  it would scale back funding. This year city officials reversed the decision.

Public outcry over the potential collapse of the cash-strapped petting farm caused the recreation committee to recommend $4,000 annually, beginning in 2015, and approved by council Monday.

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