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Transcona CIG funding all handed out

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Come early if you want a chance at the Transcona ward’s share of the Community Incentive Grant (CIG) program pie, an area councillor says.

Coun. Russ Wyatt has already spent $106,261.80 on three projects in his ward, leaving his funds drained for the entirety of the calendar year, meaning any groups looking for funding through the CIGP will have to wait until 2014.

"I ran out of money because of the fact that we gave all the money to playgrounds," he said. "I try to ensure that the money gets out into the community as quickly as possible, because I believe money sitting in a bank account doesn’t make sense.

"I try to get them to make decisions early in the calendar year so that the money can be invested in the summer when the construction season is on."

He said most successful groups contact him as early as the fall to notify him an application is forthcoming.

Wyatt noted his ward has 54 parks, and he estimated with each playground having a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, there will be numerous sites needing repairs in the coming years.

"We’re behind the eight-ball and we’re trying to catch up," he said, noting each playground renewal tallies an average of $50,000, leaving him able to fund only two per year. "There are still people calling — ‘what about my playground?’ I know where they are. It’s just that there’s not enough dollars to fix them all at once."

One group that will have to wait is Harold Hatcher School, which saw its $52,000 bid for playground renewal received as information at the Feb. 26 meeting until other funding sources were discovered.

Two others are the South Transcona Community Centre, which requested $28,716 for ice rink restoration, and the St. Joseph the Worker Parents’ Association, which asked for $1,988 to enhance its school locks.

Both requests were received as information on March 19, though the community centre was referred to the Community Centre Renovation Fund.

Wyatt made a commitment of $4,648.03 to the Punjab Cultural Centre, which is under construction at 1770 King Edward St., at the March 19 East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee meeting. He had to rescind that funding at the April 9 meeting because he was over budget.

Wyatt called the program a "leveraging" one, noting the city often matches what the community has raised. The city is only allowed to fund a maximum of 50% of a project’s total cost unless council gives its approval to fund a higher percentage. Council did just that on April 24, funding repairs to Rotary Sunrise Park in Kildonan Estates.

Wyatt’s CIG contribution of $40,000 brought the city’s total to $127,000 of the $183,000 project. Wyatt has also committed $60,261.80 to the Oxford Heights Community Centre playground.

Through the community committee’s April 9 meeting, Elmwood-East Kildonan Coun. Thomas Steen had spent $70,611.52 on three projects, while North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty had spent only $20,000 — his commitment to the Punjab Cultural Centre.

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