By Cecilia Nasmith Today`s Northumberland
Cobourg council had the opportunity to hear more details of what uses a number of local groups and organizations have in mind for Municipal Community Grants they hope to receive in the 2024 budget.
Invited to make their appeals to a special council meeting Monday, nine of these applicants accepted, appearing at the meeting that was chaired by Councillor Randy Barber at the request of Mayor Lucas Cleveland (Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty was not present).
Victoria Hall Volunteers are requesting $3,967 in in-kind support – the use of space in Victoria Hall. This would be access to the Citizens’ Forum for their meetings and use of the Concert Hall for two 2024 events.
Representative Leona Woods cited the group’s 49 years of support for Victoria Hall, raising more than $367,530 for such things as work on the clock tower and external entrance pillars, blinds and flooring. Should the grant not be possible, Woods said, “I think our organization would be hard-pressed to continue – not just because we have to figure out some way to meet elsewhere or to pay for the facility, but we would probably question why we were raising these funds if we have to pay to hold meetings and the fundraisers in the hall.”
After all, Woods noted, “every penny that we raise comes back to the town.”
Cobourg and District Historical Society is requesting $2,431.65 in in-kind support for the use of the Concert Hall for their seven monthly meetings in 2024.
Carla Jones said that the 43-year-old group typically draws 75 to 100 members to these meetings, which promote an interest in the history of Cobourg and encourage the preservation of its historic, archaeological and architectural history. They also undertake occasional projects, such as their recent restoration of the Cobourg-Rochester Ferry mural downtown.
Cobourg Lawn Bowling Club is requesting $3,838.17 in in-kind support for parking passes that will help out-of-town bowlers attend regular club meetings and tournaments.
Members treasure their 116-year history in Victoria Park and their 100-year-old clubhouse, and pretty well cover all their own costs. But since 2010, parking has been an issue. While free parking is available for tournaments in places like Oshawa and Lindsay, Bob Bates said, a participant in a Cobourg tournament would pay $15 to register and $40 to park. For regular-season play, they are encouraging their Cobourg members to purchase residents’ seasonal parking passes, but almost half their membership is from out of town – meaning their seasonal passes would cost $150.
Tournaments attract bowlers from Windsor to Ottawa, Bates noted, so the town gets a big boost to its visitors’ industry from that.
Northumberland Oral Health Coalition is requesting $600 for oral-health supplies.
This group was formed in 2005 to advocate for equitable access to affordable oral health care, but the all-volunteer group works on the ground too. On their visits to free church meals, the warming room and such organizations as Transition House and the Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre, they distribute supplies to people of all ages to improve their oral health – denture cups, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and tongue cleaners for people who smoke.
“One hundred per cent of the money you gave us went to supplies,” Fran Richardson said, referring to last year’s grant.
Cobourg Ecology Garden is requesting a $2,500 grant toward the work they do.
Dora Bodie described some of the work that goes on at the property at the foot of Hibernia Street. This includes community-engagement events (such as paint-a-pot workshops for Mother’s Day as well as prayer walks, weddings and school garden tours) over its 28-year existence.
Its volunteers range in age from 10 to 100, and typically give 1,400 to 1,500 volunteer hours a year. Over the past five years, Bodie pointed out, the value of this in-kind contribution would be $102,685.
Cobourg Museum Foundation is requesting $7,000 – an in-kind donation of covering the museums taxes (typically around $4,000) and $3,000 toward this year’s exhibit.
The town has taken care of these taxes for some years, Stanley Isherwood noted, and they sincerely hope the town will continue to do so.
As well, this year’s exhibit, which celebrates the Cobourg Museum Foundation’s 25th year, is a comprehensive look at the history of Cobourg.
Isherwood expressed hope for the group’s requests to be granted, as the museum meets five of the six strategic directions in the town’s cultural master plan.
Northumberland Hispanic Cultural Club is requesting in-kind support of $2,500 for the use of the Victoria Hall Concert Hall for two nights in Cobourg.
Event co-ordinator Fabian Arciniegas said that 95% of the club’s activities take place in Cobourg. The club is not only an active participant in such community events as Canada Day but also organizes its own activities (including a big annual cultural celebration).
Arciniegas also noted that Spanish is the second most-spoken language in Northumberland County, the third-most-spoken being Tagalog.
Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank is asking for a grant of $10,000.
Henry Easter said that the organization began more than 30 years ago and now operates with three employees and 210 volunteers to open its cupboards three days a week. Along with what he termed an “alarming” increase in the amount of food they distribute, he noted that donations are down. They used to be able to count on 60% of their stock being donated. That figure is down to 35%, meaning they have to pay for 65% of the food they have on hand – at higher prices too.
Northumberland Hills Stitchery Guild is asking for a grant of $5,000, to be paid out over the next two years.
Susan Calverly said the organization is almost 50 years old, and its 25 members are mostly seniors. They have rebounded well from the COVID-19 pandemic to the point that they are outgrowing their space at the Lions Centre and need to look for someplace new. However, the Lions Centre has insurance for their meetings, whereas another location might not, so this will be an added expense.
Calverly noted that their membership are at a vulnerable age. Fellow club members take care of each other, checking in on a regular basis and helping with transportation needs. But as a guild, she pointed out, they have a duty to instruct – so they are looking at experimenting with nightly meetings that they hope will attract younger members looking to benefit from the existing members’ expertise.