Last Year for Community Grants?

Although Council approved grants to 17 community groups, it may be the last year that this is done.  When Council approved the grants, an additional sentence was added: “And further that Council direct staff to review the Community Grant Policy including options to cease the program, streamline the application process for more efficient decision making or offer special rental and parking rates for non-profit organizations;  And further that a report be brought back to Council by June 2023.”  Mayor Cleveland and Councillor Barber were against any grants and Councillor Brian Darling was against cash grants. Brian was also reluctant to approve in-kind grants to waive fees for Victoria Hall since Victoria Hall is already subsidized.  Councillors also suggested that more groups should create MOUs with the Town – like the Art Gallery. (MOU = Memorandum of Understanding).  If this were done, annual applications would not be needed.

The approval process started with a list of proposed grants by Nicole Beatty.  In many cases, her suggestions were approved but in a case by case review, some were changed.  Here is the approved list:

  Name of Organization Grant Type  Amount
1 Canadians Abilities Foundation  Cash $3,000 $1,000
2 Cobourg and District Historical Society In-Kind $2,520 $2,000
3 Cobourg Ecology Garden Cash $1,800 $1,800
4 Cobourg Highland Games Society  In-Kind $16,675 $5,000
5 Cobourg Lawn Bowling Club  In-Kind $6,720 $6,720
6 Cobourg Museum Foundation  Cash $5,000 $4,000
7 Cobourg Toastmasters  In-Kind $3,796.80 $1,000
8 Horizons of Friendship  Cash $1,950 $1,000
9 La Jeunesse Choirs  In-Kind $2,500 $1,000
10 Les Amis  In-Kind $2,000 $1,000
11 Northumberland Oral Health Coalition Cash $400 $400
12 Northumberland Orchestra & Choir Society Cash $5,000 $1,000
13 Ontario Community Emergency Assistance Program Cash $3,500 $1,000
14 Saint Vincent De Paul Cash $5,000 $1,000
15 Song – Sounds of the Next Generation In-Kind $3,200 $1,000
16 St. Peters Church Cash $15,000 $0
17 Victoria Hall Volunteers In-Kind $5,432 $5,432
18 Victorian Operetta Society  In-Kind $4,000 $1,000

That’s a total of $35,352 – $11,200 cash and $24,152 In-Kind.


  • Although Nicole initially included $5,000 for the St. Peter’s  project, she later announced that since the St. Peter’s amount would be for capital, it was not eligible.
  • The Lawn Bowling Club amount was for parking passes as has been traditionally provided.
  • The Cobourg Museum amount was for a rebate on their tax bill. The amount is an estimate – the actual may be slightly more or less.
  • The amount for Victoria Hall Volunteers was generous because they donate back to the Town.
  • Some Council members have an interest in some of the groups so declared a conflict and did not vote in those cases.

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12 February 2023 9:42 pm

I’m still trying to get over the whole $30k ask for a new mat to the water. With no discussion!

12 February 2023 8:43 am
Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 9:34 am


Your “Community Chest” idea is interesting, except for the funding method: Holdco dividend.
Holdco has paid $0 in dividends to the Town since 2015.
Further, whether the money comes from Holdco or the Town tax levy, it still comes from the Cobourg residents wallet. Getting the money from Holdco is no different than the Storm Water fee.
It’s a perceptual thing. The Town still has its hand in your wallet: just the left one instead on the right. But the wallet being picked is still yours.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Reply to  Bryan
12 February 2023 10:01 am

Well if the dividend has dried up the interest on the promissory note hasn’t. There is still a cashflow from Northam tucked away in the “council play money fund”

Money for a community chest would not be hard to find, if Council was committed to the idea.

Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 10:18 am


There is no money in the Town’s control that does not come from the taxpayer. So having “community grants” in the budget or not makes no difference. It’s all out of the same wallet

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
12 February 2023 10:35 am

Bryan, stated differently:
Any revenue coming to the town could be used to reduce taxes or to fund things like pickle ball courts. They are just two ways to spend the same coin!

Do we want a town with very high taxes and low cost services for special interest groups — AGN visitors, pickle ball players, lawn bowlers? Or do we want a town with reasonable taxes that leaves enough in our pockets to pay for our individual interests?

Last edited 1 month ago by Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 10:14 pm


Why does it have to come from the Town? Why can’t these groups fund raise like the kids’ sports teams do?. Get corporate sponsors, raffles, 50/50 draws, pass the hat…whatever works.

The Highland Games and Lawn Bowling asked for in-kind grants, not cash. I agree with Ken S that in-kind access to Town facilities should be easier to get and “granted” when appropriate. There should be Town policies/procedures to guide staff in handling the “in-kind” requests rather than coming to Council.

Note that there are no sports teams, no kids’ hockey/baseball/soccer teams applying for a Town handout..Why is that?

Last edited 1 month ago by Bryan
Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 10:20 am

Ben, reading your blog I assume that you consider me to be one of “…the tax-fighters, who want to nickel and dime the budget favour no grants“. That is not the case; I actually assisted Paul Pagnuelo (another “tax-fighter”) in drafting the Community Grant Policy that was eventually approved, mostly unchanged, by Council.

I favour providing free (or minimal charge) access by community groups to town facilities such as the hugely underutilized rooms in Victoria Hall (Citizens Forum and Concert Hall). Any incremental costs (security guard, additional cleaning, etc) should be paid for by the community group. It is far better to have a room provide benefits to a community group rather than be vacant with no benefit to anyone!

My objection is to Community Grants that cost the town revenue — free parking spots that could otherwise generate revenue, for example — and donations of money that would better serve the residents by allowing a reduction in our taxes.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
12 February 2023 10:49 am

Ken you cannot have it both ways – writing the guidelines for the community grants and then claiming to want to restrict allocations.

The small amount of money involved here will not make a dent in your tax reduction. Also the small amount of money involved make these grants look like ‘lip service’ but really just shows Council’s attitude to be one of parsimony.

That is why I propose that we revamp and ‘outsource’ the programme.

Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 11:18 am


“Outsourcing” sounds good. “Outsourcing” to whom?

Holdco, Northam, VPC, Crimcheck, are all part of the Town. Funding from any of them is not “outsourcing”

Outsourcing would be getting Rotary, Lions, Walmart, Home Depot, CT, Belden, Behan, Cameco, Canada Pallet, car dealer ships, … fund the “community chest”. But then, they already do that by sponsoring all manner of sports/cultural groups in town.
Perhaps there should be no community grants and let the “grant seekers” be self sufficient and find sponsors or pass the hat at their events.

I agree with KS about in-kind “donations”. However, the Town charges the kids hockey teams for ice time, and I doubt the baseball teams get to use the CCC/Donegan fields for free.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Bryan
12 February 2023 1:06 pm

What is the basis for the charges for using town owned facilities?

The charges are defined by Bylaw 046-2019 as amended each year. The original bylaw is at—Fees-and-Charges.pdf but the amended version does not appear to be on the town’s website. The website badly needs a revamp but some would prefer to spend on a seldom visited AGN instead.

The current charges for using Citizens Forum in Victoria Hall are $125 for 8 hours for non-profit/community groups and the same charge for commercial usage. Commercial users may want the venue for a full day but few community groups meet for 8 hours at a time!

How does that support community and cultural groups? Most days it is completely unused so why do community groups have to beg for a grant in order to use it?

Ken Strauss
Reply to  ben
12 February 2023 1:11 pm

Ben, I don’t want to “restrict allocations” but feel that allowing community groups to use underutilized meeting rooms should be considered completely differently from actual cash contributions or free usage of fully utilized facilities such as downtown parking.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
13 February 2023 8:03 am

Good luck with that all the parking revenue does is pay towards someone to collect the money. If you think parking fees will build a parking garage you are living in a dream world. You are all talking about the community grants while closing your eyes to the waste in what I believe our over staffed town hall.

11 February 2023 9:17 am

No more community grants but increases in Councillors’ salaries?