The Nanaimo Marine Festival is one of 30 events that was announced as a grant recipient through the City of Nanaimo’s Downtown Event Revitalization Funding Program. (File photo)

Councillors vote to grant $150,000 for downtown events

Nanaimo city councillors vote in favour of finance and audit committee recommendation

Downtown events in Nanaimo received a financial boost this week.

Nanaimo councillors voted in favour of awarding $150,000 worth of downtown event grant money from the city’s Downtown Event Revitalization Funding Program at a meeting Monday, March 5, at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

The $150,000 will be distributed to 30 events, which had until Jan. 29 to apply for the grant through the revitalization funding program.

Events that will receive the more than $10,000 in grant funding this year are the Nanaimo Marine Festival, $17,500; Summertime Blues Festival, $15,500; Commercial Street Night Market, $11,000; and the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival, $10,000. Other events will receive amounts ranging from $9,500 to $560. Two events, Summer Fling in the Park and Fathers Day in the Park will not receive any money from the grant. Summer Fling in the Park had request $5,000 while Fathers Day in the Park requested $4,000 according to a staff report, which shows that Longwoodstock and Caravan Nanaimo Festival were deemed as ineligible applicants by the city.

The downtown event grant was created in 2017 after councillors elected to dissolve the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association. The budget for the grant program was $117,121 in 2017 but councillors decided to increase the 2018 budget to $150,000 late last year.

During last night’s meeting, Coun. Jerry Hong questioned whether it would be possible for staff to hold five per cent of the $150,000 of allocated money in future years as a contingency fund that could be used to provide assistance to events that may be organized after the grant application deadline, which was Jan. 29 this year.

“Traditionally we give away the entire money at the beginning of the year, but what we find ourselves in is in some situations an event does come forward, that we need money for but run out,” he said. “For example, the kids’ conference that is happening this weekend. Because of their deadline and they didn’t know, they didn’t make this list.”

Coun. Bill Bestwick told councillors that he would like to see in next year’s report a list of events that received grant money in previous years, so the public and councillors can have a better understanding of who has received money from the city in years previous and how much money they have been given.

“I think it would be helpful,” Bestwick said.

Last year’s funding requests and awarded amounts are available on the city’s website.

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