Vancouver council denies funding for arts program for vulnerable drug users CTV News – CTV News Vancouver IG News

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A majority of Vancouver City Council has voted not to approve $7,500 in funding for an arts program on the Downtown Eastside, citing the need to “send a message” to the organization that facilitated the drop-in .

At Tuesday’s meeting, a staff report was presented to council recommending a combined $4,351,340 in arts and culture grants to be distributed to 209 organizations.

country. Brian Montague, who is with the majority ABC party, asked staffers about a particular line item in the report, which proposed funding to the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users art table. His concern, he said, was that the organization had failed to deliver on what it had promised when it was awarded a large grant to clean up East Hasting Street last year.

“Was it the fact that the city eliminated the money it gave to this group last year?” Montague Staff.

In response, cultural manager Cheryl Masters said that the special event had been funded last year and met all the criteria.

“The benchmark is really about impact in the community,” she said.

“The project was rated well by community peer evaluators in terms of providing some low-income residents of the Downtown Eastside some opportunities to have a voice, be creative, stay off the streets, and perhaps access some of the other resources that VANDU provides.” was received in kind,” he continued.

Masters said the expiration of the $320,000 street cleaning grant was not relevant to assessing VANDU’s ongoing eligibility to receive funding for the arts program.

“It was a very new activity for them. We knew we were trying something new and it didn’t work. In this situation, it’s a program they’ve run before and been successful . We believe in this special program,” she said.

Revision for Denial of Funding

When it came time to vote on the staff report and its recommendations, Montague introduced an amendment to approve everything except the $7,500 for VANDU.

“I have concerns about the guidelines that were used to recommend grants based on past performance,” Montague said.

“I personally do not believe the program and service they will provide and I disagree with the funding for the organization.”

Green Party County. Pete Fry was the first of three non-ABC members to speak out against the amendment, saying that the grant itself is modest and that it promotes the arts as a form of therapy and self-expression.

“I think it would be a mistake to deny people this $7,500 to express themselves in the midst of this devastating overdose crisis,” he said.

“We are talking about a drug crisis that has killed more than 10,000 people in British Columbia since it was declared a public health emergency in 2016. So when we talk about art as a means of expression, we’re talking about people in a population who have really suffered some devastating loss in that community.

ABC councilors were unanimous in their support of the amendment, all citing the street cleaning grant as evidence that more public money should not be handed over to the organisation.

“I know it’s only $7,500 we’re talking about and I’m a big supporter of the arts and culture sector. But we have to draw the line somewhere, and I believe that – as a council In – we need to send a message,” Count. Peter Meissner said.

country. Sarah Kirby-Yung said that what was at stake was more than a grant.

“I think it is incumbent upon us as stewards of public funds to uphold the principle of responsible use of public funds,” she said.

A ‘political’ decision?

OneCity County. Christine Boyle, like Fry, spoke out against the amendment, saying the funding was modest and agreeing with Fry that the organization was being segregated. He also questioned the motivation behind the move.

“This is a small grant for a project that they have successfully delivered in the past and that have had a meaningful impact in the past. I support this grant. I do not support the amendment to remove it and I I will also say that I am concerned about the politicization of scrapping small grants for very vulnerable residents like this on the council table.”

“We Nickel and Diming are a small, frontline organization truly serving those who are most at risk and a community that has been watching its friends and neighbors die in incredible numbers in recent years,” she added. added in

VANDU, as Fry noted during the meeting, engages in political activity by organizing protests and rallies and pushing for changes in drug policy. More recently, at the municipal level, the group’s activism has included campaigning against the election of Mayor Ken Simms and members of his party – as well as speaking out against specific policies and promises such as increased funding for the Vancouver Police Department.

Montague is a former official and spokesperson for the department.

Fry said, “Vandu has done some political things that have probably created a scenario where we are, we’re looking at Vandu through a different lens.”

“It is a decision that is being carried forward and supported by a political party majority in this council. You can interpret it as you want,” he said later.

Voting in favor of the amendment, Sim said he was doing so not to single out any one organization but to send a message about accountability and responsibility.

“The expectation in the City of Vancouver is that when you do business with the City of Vancouver, we’re going to hold you to a higher level of accountability. And therefore I will support this motion. It has nothing to do with Vandu,” he said.

“Being able to do business with the City of Vancouver isn’t just a right, it’s a privilege. And that’s the kind of culture we want to lead here as long as I’m in office.”

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