Premier Christy Clark.

Charities hope review reforms gambling grants

Funding to many non-profits was slashed in 2009

A review of how the province shares its gambling profits with community groups must restore slashed grants to former levels and curtail Victoria’s ability to interfere in the future, charity advocates say.

The Community Gaming Grant Review, announced Monday by Premier Christy Clark, is to deliver a top-to-bottom assessment of the system and determine options to “create certainty and sustainability” for affected non-profit groups and charities.

It will be headed by former Kwantlen Polytechnic University president Skip Triplett.

Many groups were outraged in 2009 when the province cut grants to community groups from $156 million to $120 million a year. That was raised to $135 million this spring after Clark took office.

Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming, characterized the raid two years ago as an attack on non-profits, particularly those in arts and culture.

“They decided they were going to cut out arts and culture entirely, cut environmental groups entirely, cut other groups by 50 per cent and give 100 per cent to their favourite charities,” she said.

Rich Coleman, the former minister in charge of gaming, had defended the cuts as necessary to shore up B.C.’s budget amid a deepening global recession and said the reallocations were geared to protect youth groups at the expense of organizations serving adults.

Marsden accused Coleman of putting his personal anti-arts stamp on the decision and said she hopes the review ensures nothing similar can happen again.

“We need to get government at arm’s length from this,” she said.

“In the short term, we need to get all of the charities funded again to the levels they were in 2008. In the long term, we need to look at stability, at legislation that enshrines the funding formula.”

Marsden praised Clark for delivering on her pledge of a review and said the terms of reference are acceptable – except that Triplett won’t report until the end of October.

“I don’t know if there will be any charities left to fund once they get around to putting anything into legislation, not to mention there may be an election in between.”

Many non-profit groups are “on life support” after cutting staff and switching to cheaper accommodation, she said.

More than two thirds of the $1-billion a year in revenue that comes to the province from gambling goes into general revenue, with another $147 million dedicated to health funding, $82 million shared with cities that host casinos or community gaming centres and the rest is shared with community groups.

Charities have often been enlisted to voice their support for gaming when new casinos or slot machine venues have been proposed.

The review is to collect input from charities, community members, industry reps and local government.

“This review is not just about how much money we can share,” said Ida Chong, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

“It’s about the process we use to decide together who should have access to this funding, what we can do with it and how we are accountable for it.”

For more information, including upcoming community forums, see www.communitygaminggrantreview.gov.bc.ca.

Just Posted

No charges in fatal police Taser incident in Chilliwack

RCMP watchdog concludes no evidence of excessive or disproportionate force was used by officers

End ‘exploitative’ parking fees at Lower Mainland hospitals, group says

HospitalPayParking.ca is criticizing a new contract between health authorities and Impark

B.C.’s best craft distilleries back in Chilliwack for Fraser Valley Distillery Festival

Small-batch spirits, appetizers, live music, candy and more come together for FV Distillery Festival

Another vacant house goes up in flames in Chilliwack

An ongoing problem with landlords not securing properties from squatters

Chilliwack curlers qualify for B.C. Mixed Doubles Championship

Allison Bourne and Stephen Strathdee survived a Lower Mainland playdown in Abbotsford last weekend.

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Fraser Valley Bandits reveal mascot name

Berry the Bandit officially unveiled, makes first public appearance tomorrow

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

Mennonite Central Committee hosts fundraising banquet in Chilliwack

An evening of dining, sharing in community and storytelling at Sardis Community Church

Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying with taxpayers’ money

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

Most Read