Recently the Village of Burns Lake council made a motion that will have a significant impact on non-profit societies in the Lakes District. The decision to prohibit receiving grants and/or donations on behalf of volunteer organizations will reduce the revenue coming to our community, limit the projects, and will drive up the operating costs of local non-profits.
Many granting agencies require money to flow through a charitable organization or a municipality. Like many local governments, the Village of Burns Lake, has acted as the third party to accept the grant or donation and flow it through to the non-profit. This is not unique to the Village of Burns Lake. This is a way for municipalities to offer in-kind support to volunteer organizations without costing the municipality a lot of money.
There are a number of non-profits that partner with the municipality. For example, last year the Rotary Club of Burns Lake completed upgrades to the Burns Lake Cemetery. This was only possible because Rotary received a grant from the Nechako Kitimat Development Fund (NKDF), which had to be received by the Village of Burns Lake based on the requirements of the granting agency. The proposed changes by council will make it nearly impossible for Rotary to receive grants from agencies like NKDF. The club is able to leverage significant grants with the money it raises every year. This allows for the club to complete large projects and enables the club to give back more to the community. This change will impact all future projects the club has planned for the community.
This was a political decision made by council without consulting non-profits and the senior staff at the municipality who manage the arrangements between the Village of Burns Lake and non-profits.
We live in a small town. Non-profits are key to the vibrancy of our community so we must all work together to ensure continued success. Council should embrace the opportunity to work with non-profits and take some time to reconsider this motion, consult with staff, and work with the non-profit organizations to find a solution.
Treasurer, Rotary Club of Burns Lake