CBRM: Give Undercurrent Funding

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This coming Tuesday I am going appearing before the CBRM Mayor and Council to appeal a decision they have made. I am looking for community support to create a positive change for our kids and youth and have two ways everyone can help, so please read to the end. Plus feel free to share.

Let me explain.

As we do every year, we applied for funding through the CBRM sustainability fund. We asked for $10,000 for each centre to create music studios at both centres, build check in areas, and various sport related upgrades to increase our capacity. In the past we have received some funds from CBRM, as well as, the CBRM youth council for upgrades for recreation programs for children and youth.

We have not received funds every year, as there is not enough to go around to everyone who applies. However, this year was different as we are trying hard to finish our new centre in Sydney and wanted to start several new programs in Glace Bay. However, I was asked to come to a meeting and found out that Undercurrent is no longer eligible to apply for funds through the CBRM.

The reason given to me is that the CBRM Council has adopted a policy that states, ‘The Municipality is not-partisan and does not provide financial support to religious or political doctrine.’ However, I did appeal this decision already and failed.

So here is where things get muddy. The CBRM recreation department is currently partnering with both Undercurrent Centres for it’s skate school programs and have staff running programs in our space. We have been a partner for many community events in Sydney and Glace Bay where all the finances have run through our books for many years. The CBRM youth council has also used our centre for their events. We are operating in every way possible together to help the youth in our community. In the past, as when were in the construction phase of the Glace Bay Centre the CBRM did help with funding several times. So Undercurrent space is being used by the CBRM, and partners for programs, but Undercurrent does not qualify for funding.

We fully support a separation of religious services and state. Our Undercurrent Youth Centre programs are open to people of every background. We have respected the wishes of all funders to make sure all funds go programs where they want them to. Lighthouse has given the space to the youth centre to use.

We do not, and have not, asked for any funding for Lighthouse or religious programs from the CBRM. Any funding requested to the CBRM has been for youth recreation, arts, music programming related to the work we do with Undercurrent Youth Centre. In the past years we have, or are currently, receiving funding from United Way, Telus, Community Services, Provincial Recreation, several rotaries, the Kinsman, Emera, Walmart, and more. I say this because all of these do not fund religious events or programs, yet they have given funding to Undercurrent.

The CBRM has taken a position beyond what every other community group, and level of government has done.
There are two HUGE REASONS why dealing with this policy is very important to us and should concern the citizens of the CBRM. First, the immediate need of our youth. We are current trying to increase our capacity to help the children and youth of the CBRM. We ask for minimal amounts to do this and the return far exceeds the investments.

Second, we are currently working with groups in three communities in the CBRM to start youth centres in their communities. To move forward there will be some capital expenses to reach this goal. In order to successfully access the funds needed to make these things happen we need investments from every level of government, and they usually hing on everyone being behind a project. With the council adopting a policy that removes CBRM from the table it means it will make it incredibly more difficult for these new communities to have centres like what we have in Sydney and Glace Bay.

After talking to several council members I do not believe it was the intention that a group like Undercurrent would be excluded from funding but this is the result of decisions made by this, or past council members. On a personal note though I feel that any policy which states an person / or group that is faith based cannot deliver non-faith based programs, recreation, life skill programming, and services is discriminatory. Many groups in our own community were started this way, and many still operate that way. Loaves and Fishes, Town House, Salvation Army, and so on.

I am asking the council to reverse it’s decision that is stopping funding for Undercurrent in Sydney and Glace Bay and approve our requests for funding for 2017. Also, more important is that they revise their policy so that they will not make the CBRM be the roadblock to seeing more youth centres in the CBRM.

Long Story I Know. So what can you do?

1 - Write or call your councillor today to express your thoughts. Their contact info is on the CBRM website found here - http://www.cbrm.ns.ca/mayor-council-2.html

2 - Show up at this weeks council meeting as all of this is public. I will be speaking at 6 PM on Tuesday Night.

3 - Sign this petition. The more support we receive the more likely this decision will be overturned.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

Lighthouse and Undercurrent are dedicated to serve the youth of the CBRM and this is just a bump on the road we will get by.

Dave Sawler



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