Several community associations in the Township of Langley have banded together in a quest for funding.
On Jan. 29, Langley resident Barbara Sharp spoke to council on behalf of community associations in Fort Langley,Aldergrove, Brookswood-Fernridge, Willoughby, Murrayville and Milner, to ask for a policy modification that would allowthese groups to apply for community grants.
Joining her were Amy Morose from the Brookswood-Fernridge Community Association and Andy Schildhorn from the FortLangley Community Association. Several residents sitting in the audience wore blue to show their support.
Sharp — who is the former mayor of the District of North Vancouver and who also served on the Township’s publicengagement task force — said that since changes were made to the grant application process in 2015, communityassociations have been unable to obtain funding, despite meeting the majority of the grant criteria.
Meanwhile, other communities like North Vancouver, Chilliwack and Abbotsford do.
“For some reason that has been dropped off the new grant process you have put in place,” she said. “So we’re not entirelysure what happened with that because there’s lots of reasons to still provide that to these groups.”
Sharp said that in the past couple of years, council has made “super great strides” to create better public engagement in theTownship. The community associations have caught on to this energy, and are continuing to promote engagement in theirneighourhoods.
“The whole process is to engage the citizens, well you have a lot of engaged citizens already,” said said.
“And it’s really worth your while to use these engaged citizens to your advantage for information, for exchange of ideas, forwhat’s happening in their particular communities, and utilize those services.”
Schildhorn said one of the issues for the groups is that the applications require them to list one event for funding. But inFort Langley, for example, they have many little events and projects throughout the year.
Coun. Bob Long questioned whether community associations are actually excluded from the funding.
“I was taken back by your slide that said that you weren’t eligible, because I don’t believe that is the case,” Long said.
“Ongoing funding for operations I don’t think is a grant criteria that we allow on any grant application. But in terms of aseries of events that you want to host, and if it involves a number of residents in the Township, I think you would beeligible.”
Coun. Blair Whitmarsh asked how these groups can remain non-political, and how they manage situations where thedifferent groups may have competing interests.
“For a community association to actually say that they represent, that they stand for something, or that they’re movingforward on a particular issue, they really have to have some numbers behind them to say that residents are believing that,”Schildhorn replied.
“I don’t think community associations are really in a position to move forward on an issue unless it really has a groundswellfrom the residents. And that’s the problem with the Township of Langley, is that we are all these different communities andwe all end up competing, or sometimes we’re feeling that council is dividing and conquering us … We really need to bringthe Township together so we’re not a bunch of little separate communities, that we’re actually one community.”
At the end of the meeting, council unanimously voted to send the delegation to staff for follow-up.