The City of Swift Current has created a new grant program to distribute federal funding provided to Saskatchewan municipalities to minimize the impact of COVID-19.

The Safe Restart Program will offer funds to Swift Current-based non-profit and volunteer organizations that provide various programs and services in the community.

The details of the program were announced during a regular City of Swift Current council meeting on Aug. 23, and council directed administration to start with the implementation process.

City Community Services Events and Program Manager Nicole Spenst provided details about the grant program during a presentation to council members.

“The Safe Restart Program funding grant was developed by the City of Swift Current administration to help assist, maintain, improve and expand opportunities for residents to benefit from initiatives that support a healthy and active community and to help alleviate effects of COVID-19,” she said.

The City of Swift Current received a total of $990,495 in Safe Restart Program funding from the federal government, of which $93,900 will be directed towards this one-time grant program for non-profit and volunteer organizations.

“A priority for the funding will be given to new initiatives that are designed with COVID-19 measures in mind, are in place or developed, to assist participation to normal levels or beyond since the beginning of the pandemic,” she said.

Projects funded through this grant program need to provide benefits in one of seven project categories. These categories are economic development, social development, justice initiatives, senior and youth programs, cultural development, health initiatives, and community sport, culture, or recreation based infrastructure development and maintenance initiatives.

Several other requirements will be considered during the review of grant applications. Projects or programs must be offered between May 17, 2021 and March 15, 2022. 

Private individuals, specific teams or groups within an existing organization are not eligible for funding, for example a local AAA hockey or baseball club. Organizations that have already received Safe Restart Program funding are not eligible to apply for this grant. Programs or projects that already received City of Swift Current Saskatchewan Lotteries grant funding may not be considered to be eligible for funding through this grant.

“We're hoping to distribute these funds to a wide variety of our community organizations,” she explained. “We want to try and help as many non-profits in our community.”

An organization that already received Saskatchewan Lotteries funding is not automatically ineligible for this grant and it is advisable to clarify with the City before submitting a Safe Restart grant application.

“We would prioritize a new program or a new organization that hasn't already received funding from us in the past at a higher priority level,” she said.

Spenst provided additional clarification about the program during an interview with the Prairie Post after the council meeting. She noted there is no limit on the amount requested per grant application.

“At this point in time we have not put a limit on it,” she said. “It will be based on how many applications we receive, and the quality of the program or the infrastructure project that the applicant is requiring or requesting and where we feel that need is best met for our community to hit all of the groups in our community.”

Any project, program or event must be designed and operated on a non-profit basis, and it cannot duplicate existing services offered in the community.

Funding from the grant program cannot be used on expenses related to construction, renovation, retrofit and repairs to facilities, on facility rent and utilities, or on wages of full-time employees. The application form also identifies various other ineligible expenses.

Funding can be spent on wages for additional contracts required to carry out approved projects. Funding can also be used to purchase items needed for a project, for example basketball nets for an outdoor activity or supplies to run a program for seniors.

Application forms are now available and the deadline for grant submissions is Sept. 15. A report for final grant approval will be presented for approval at the Oct. 18 council meeting, and applicants will be notified by October 20, 2021 of their application status.

Each successful grant applicant will have to submit a follow-up report with eligible receipts by March 15, 2022. The City will only distribute funds after a follow-up report is received.

Spenst did not expect this arrangement on the release of funds will present any challenge to those receiving funding under this grant program.

“We have run this way with some of our other grants in the past as well, for example our community support grant runs that same way,” she said. “If an organization finds that is really difficult, then that is something that we could look at maybe potentially on a percentage basis, but we have had success in helping our organizations in the past with the funds. It helps to ensure that all of the funds are being spend correctly and helping having to get funding back if the follow-up report isn't received or if there's any questions on an eligible expense that funds have already been distributed for.”

Information about the Safe Restart Program and application forms are available on the City of Swift Current website (see information tab under Community Services section).

“By all means, if groups have questions, they can give us a shout and we can walk them through the process,” she said.

Applications can be completed online or documents can be printed out. Completed documents can then be submitted by e-mail to Community Services or delivered in person to City Hall. Enquiries can be directed to Spenst by sending an e-mail to: communityservices@swiftcurrent.ca

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