First Baptist Church petitions Town – Seek exemption for grant money

Should the Town make an exception if the procedure for a grant program is honestly misinterpreted? That was the question posed at the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday at the Town Hall. The Town has two grant programs for beautification in the downtown. One is a Façade Improvement Grant program and the other is a Designated Heritage Property Grant Program. Both of these programs specify that the grants are applied for before any work is done. At the meeting on Tuesday Rev. Margaret Smart-Wheaton, Pastor of First Baptist Church, appeared before the Committee asking for an exemption to these programs. She explained that although they had met with Town officials on two different occasions to discuss renovation work, that was to be done on the property to the north of the church. Due to a misunderstanding the work, was done on the building and then the Church submitted their applications to the Town. Town officials had no option other to deny their request. Because of this “honest” mistake Rev. Smart-Wheaton requested the Town make an exception in their case.
Coun. Don Van Galen was in favour of making an exemption stating that ‘I might not do it if it was a private enterprise”. Coun. Bill Osborne said that the original decision should not reflect on staff “because they did what they had to do”, and that he was in favour of making an exemption. Coun. Jim Craigmile said that an exemption could set a precedent for others who did not qualify. He thought the Church could receive funds under a different Town grant program. When asked, Grant Brouwer said that the grant would have been in the $10,000 range for this project. Both Couns. Pope and Hainer had reservations about making an exemption without the Church going through the proper channels. A motion that would reimburse the Church “without precedent and prejudice” for the amount requested was defeated and a motion asking the Church to re-submit their application to go through the Heritage Committee was passed with both Couns. Pope and Hainer voting against.