GNSC - Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition


Councillors hear case for extra $100,000 for Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition

Councillors hear case for extra $100,000 for Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition

November 23, 2017

Coalition says extra money is needed to help stabilize efforts, make them less reliant on grants

by Graeme McNaughton

Guelph councillors heard several delegations Wednesday evening on why the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition should receive an extra $100,000 in funding in 2018’s operating budget.

On Wednesday evening, public delegates filled council chambers to offer feedback on the operating budget for 2018. However, one issue brought a majority of the speakers and onlookers to city hall: additional funding for the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC).

A network of various neighbourhood groups, sponsoring agencies and program partners throughout the city, GNSC was requesting an additional $100,000 above the already budgeted $367,000, plus additional funds for a children’s program, for 2018.

Delegations primarily spoke of the value the coalition has provided, either directly or through associated neighbourhood groups.

“I have developed relationships with most of the neighbours up and down the street, all the children. They come to my house, they come to my door and they know they can come there and get help,” Kim Gadoury, a Brant Avenue resident who has social anxiety disorder, told councillors.

“I support them because I have the support.”

“We all know Guelph is a great city, we all live here and we participate in it, but it’s not a great city for everyone, for people of colour, gender identity and especially poverty, and where all those things intersect,” said Brendan Johnson, GNSC’s executive director.

“What we’re doing in the coalition is flipping that script, that the community needs a voice in how and when things happen, and where and why they happen.”

Erin Harvey, director of service for Guelph Family and Children Services and a co-chair of GNSC’s board of directors, says the additional funding would help stabilize the coalition’s financial position, and help make them less reliant on grants — a more unreliable source of steady funding.

“It’s haphazard, we can’t really get settled in and build the kind of organization we want to build because we’re chasing little bits of money just to stand still. I can’t stand it, it’s a colossal waste of time these little grants,” she said.

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful to those grant makers, they’re wonderful and they’re needed … but they’re not appropriate for ongoing stuff that’s needed. We need sustainable funding.”

Toward the end of Wednesday evening’s meeting, when councillors laid out their intentions for the final operating budget vote on Dec. 5, several stated their plans to bring the request forward for a vote.

One councillor, Mark MacKinnon, suggested that taking the same amount out of the Guelph Police Service’s $40.23-million budget for 2018 could allow the funds for the $100,000 request.

Sgt. Arif Hasham, who delegated earlier in the evening on the importance of GNSC toward community policing, said that he believes the money would be better spent with the coalition.

“There’s some unseen benefits that we can’t measure as to what these neighbourhood groups do,” he said.

“So $100,000 to the neighbourhood groups, would that far outweigh going to the neighbourhood groups than the police service’s budget? For me personally, I would say yes.”

This article was originally posted in the Guelph Mercury