City council considers aid for advocacy group

Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy Association asks city council for $10K

City councillors will consider help for the Nanaimo Citizen Advocacy Association, as it calls for emergency financing.

Nanaimo councillors unanimously agreed to have the association meet with staff about a $10,000 funding request, with a report expected to come back to council on Monday, Jan. 22.

The association started 43 years ago and provides free general and legal advocacy to residents. This year it’s experiencing a cash crisis, with those in the organization pointing to a higher demand for service and a transition period after the retirement of a longtime executive director and bookkeeper where opportunities to secure full funding were missed and the organization was overstaffed. A fundriaising campaign was started last year to raise $20,000.

The association seeks funding from the city, and hopes for more from community organizations, donations and fundraising that will carry it to the next fiscal year in April.

Hilde Schlosar, representing the advocacy association at Monday’s council meeting, said without the money it’ll have to look at closing its doors in February. Executive director Deanna Ward has since clarified it’s the general advocacy program that would shut down.

“We have done some fundraising, got some donations, we have a Go Fund Me page, we’ve reached out to the rotary clubs and other service organizations, it is trickling in but it’s just not enough,” said Schlosar.

Coun. Diane Brennan said she knows citizens advocacy very well and called it essential. She wanted to see a decision on the $10,000 made at this past Monday’s meeting.

“We’ve made those kinds of decisions before. This is a really essential service that this group provides us in this city and they make a difference to the issues that we are plagued with, that we have talked about over and over again,” she said. “Homelessness, downtown disorder, those are the kinds of things that are impacted by citizens advocacy.”

Coun. Bill Bestwick didn’t want staff to be bound by the requested amount, but to entertain larger numbers “that may be extended and that may become a line item and that may become in our budget for our consideration and contemplation.”

Coun. Jerry Hong supported sending the issue to staff for more information, saying the the city turned down the association for some grant funds and he wants to know why, and also wanted to know where the money would come from.

As of Wednesday, because of fundraising, the organization was down to needing $15,000.

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