Put geography last on the list

The Community Recreation Program is a bit sexier than your average provincial granting program.

It’s rare to spend as many words on grant applications as The Echo has in the past few weeks, but the Community Recreation Program is a bit sexier than your average provincial granting program.

In Invermere in particular, recreation facilities were a hot topic this last election cycle. A program that encourages communities to dream up hundred-thousand dollar facilities programs and throw proposals together in all of three or four weeks (the grant has apparently been around since October, but seems to have been picked up by most local governments some time in late November) is pretty much the action movie of government granting.

It’s also interesting to see where the recreational needs are falling in various communities — and how big our local governments can think when there’s an opportunity to do so. From the ball park at the crossroads to the Radium community hall upgrade discussed in these pages last week, there’s plenty for everyone in the valley to get excited about, whether you play hockey or are looking to sign up for a new yoga class.

The one disheartening note in all this came from the last District of Invermere council meeting, when mayor Gerry Taft pointed out one possible flaw in all this brainstorming — geography may work against us.

With four proposals for the Columbia Valley heading to Victoria, Taft worried the provincial government may be reluctant to inject too much of its $30 million grant pot into one small area.

When it comes to grants, it’s reasonable to expect local governments will have to compete against each other at least somewhat.

But while we don’t doubt there’s need and worthy projects outside the valley, it would be a shame if final decisions on this grant program looked like they were made in order to best spread around government photo ops.

Let’s hope this program looks at merit first, not where a community falls on the map.

The Valley Echo