Charities hope review reforms gambling grants

A review of how the province shares its gambling profits with community groups must restore slashed grants to former levels and curtail Victoria’s ability to interfere in the future, charity advocates say.

A review of how the province shares its gambling profits with community groups must restore slashed grants to former levels and curtail Victoria’s ability to interfere in the future, charity advocates say.

The Community Gaming Grant Review, announced Monday by Premier Christy Clark, is to deliver a top-to-bottom assessment of the system and determine options to “create certainty and sustainability” for affected non-profit groups and charities.

It will be headed by former Kwantlen University president Skip Triplett.

Many groups were outraged in 2009 when the province cut grants to community groups from $156 million to $120 million a year. That was raised to $135 million this spring after Clark took office.

Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming, characterized the raid two years ago as an attack on non-profits, particularly those in arts and culture.

“They decided they were going to cut out arts and culture entirely, cut environmental groups entirely, cut other groups by 50 per cent and give 100 per cent to their favourite charities,” she said.

Rich Coleman, the former minister in charge of gaming, had defended the cuts as necessary to shore up B.C.’s budget amid a deepening global recession and said the reallocations were geared to protect youth groups at the expense of organizations serving adults.

Marsden accused Coleman of putting his personal anti-arts stamp on the decision and said she hopes the review ensures nothing similar can happen again.

“We need to get government at arm’s length from this,” she said.

“In the short term, we need to get all of the charities funded again to the levels they were in 2008. In the long term, we need to look at stability, at legislation that enshrines the funding formula.”

Marsden praised Clark for delivering on her pledge of a review and said the terms of reference are acceptable – except that Triplett won’t report until the end of October.

“I don’t know if there will be any charities left to fund once they get around to putting anything into legislation, not to mention there may be an election in between.”

Many non-profit groups are “on life support” after cutting staff and switching to cheaper accommodation, she said.

More than two thirds of the $1-billion a year in revenue that comes to the province from gambling goes into general revenue, with another $147 million dedicated to health funding, $82 million shared with cities that host casinos or community gaming centres and the rest is shared with community groups.

Charities have often been enlisted to voice their support for gaming when new casinos or slot machine venues have been proposed.

The review is to collect input from charities, community members, industry reps and local government.

“This review is not just about how much money we can share,” said Ida Chong, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

“It’s about the process we use to decide together who should have access to this funding, what we can do with it and how we are accountable for it.”

For more information, including upcoming community forums, see www.communitygaminggrantreview.gov.bc.ca.

Just Posted

New X-ray machine at the South Similkameen Health Centre will be up and running after Labour Day

Interior Health confirms the equipment was replaced because it was an old version

Local artists hold first annual Keremeos Art Walk

Painter Bonny Roberts hopes to make Keremeos’ first art walk an annual event

The Offspring and Sum41 ready to rock Penticton

The Offspring and Sum 41 will stop in Penticton to the South Okanagan Events Centre

Motorcyclist involved in Westside Road crash

Air ambulance assists while motorists face lengthy delays

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Man launches petition to bring charter schools to B.C.

The move could see up to 20 charter schools come to the province

Okanagan’s alleged “Deadpool” robber revealed

RCMP catch up with suspect following gas station robbery earlier this month

RCMP searching for missing Kelowna hitchhiker

Cody Kolodychuk was last heard from on July 31 and was thought to be hitchhiking in the Vernon area

South Okanagan pays it forward to BC Wildfire Service firefighters

Community members thank Eagle Bluff firefighters through Tim Hortons donations

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read