Heritage tourism and sports were pitted against each other at the Champlain Township budget talks on Monday, February 4.

The township has a new process to enable volunteer organizations to request financial support from the township.  The new Community Grants Program received 18 applications for financial support in 2019, including four additional requests from local sports organizations.

The overall ask from the 18 applicants was $34,799.  In 2018, Champlain Township distributed $23,800 to 14 organizations.

The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) contributes $10,000 to the township to offset expenditures on culture.

Council reacted to the 2019 request list by quickly dispensing with the overall requested $11,000 increase. Instead, council revisited line by line the actual 2018 levels for each applicant.

To enable contributions to new organizations, council made cuts totalling $1,500 to the 2018 levels of two Vankleek Hill heritage tourism groups.  The Vankleek Hill & District Historical Society will receive $3000, $1,000 less than it received in 2018 and the Higginson Tower will receive $3,500, translating into a $500 reduction compared to what it received in 2018.

Mayor Norman Riopel and council in general expressed pride in keeping to the 2018 spending level for 18 applicants. The approved 2019 Community Grants totalled $23,800, effectively distributing the same amount of funds to 18 applicants in 2019, compared to 14 recipients in 2018. (Note: the UCPR $10,000 contribution reduces this expenditure to $13,800.)

Those new to the grant process were the Vankleek Hill Skating Club which asked for $2,500 and will receive $500. The new Vankleek Hill Sports Club will receive $500 to improve the soccer field; however, its application to receive $1,000 assistance for the soccer light bill was refused. As well, Eastern Prescott Russell Minor Hockey will receive $500, not the $999 it requested.

Recreation Director Lisa Burroughs explained to council that the Optimist Club, which for decades focussed on fundraising to support youth and sports, is no longer active. The work to manage youth sports and to fundraise for them is now all in the hands of community volunteers, mostly parents. The Director defended the 2019 sports funding requests as a key element to economically serve Champlain youth.

Two other sports groups were returned to their 2018 funding: Ski-vent-clic and the Vankleek Hill Curling Club will each receive $500. These two organizations had asked for $1000 and $800 respectively.  For the volunteer cross-country ski group, equipment maintenance is an issue. The Curling Club is trying to expand its junior curling programme.

Among the groups  devoted to heritage preservation, the L’Orignal Old Jail asked for $7,000 towards operating costs and will receive $4,000, the same as in 2018. Longueuil Heritage will receive its $1000 ask which is the same amount as it received in 2018.

The Vankleek Hill & District Historical Society which operates the Musée Vankleek Hill Museum asked for $5,500 and will receive $3000, which is $1000 less than in 2018. The Higginson Tower reprised their 2018 request level of $4,000, and instead will receive $3500 which is $500 less than it received in 2018.

Arbor Gallery requested $950 and will receive its 2018 level of $500. The Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society requested $2,500 for the Fair. There was back and forth discussion of the fair as a draw to the town, and of town services provided at no charge to the Agricultural Society. In the end, it was decided to give $2,000 to the Agricultural Society, an increase of $500 over the $1,500 amount provided to them in 2018.

The Vankleek Hill Fiddle & Dance Association will receive $300, which it requested.

The Vankleek Hill Business Merchants will maintain its annual $5,000 grant. Each of the food banks which services Vankleek Hill and L’Orignal will receive $1,000 as they did in 2018.

The Vankleek Hill Sunshine Euchre Club and the Seniors Christmas Gala will continue to receive their annual requests of $150 and $350 respectively.

Community Facility Usage Grants

Under the 2019 Community Facility Usage Grant, the 11 applicants will each receive their requested free usage of the Vankleek Hill hall, the pad and the Chalet Abri for events and fundraising. Because of an increase in rental fees, the 2019 in-kind value is up slightly to $9,000.

They are: Canadian Cancer Society Russell Gauley Breakfast: $1,210; Vankleek Hill & District Horticultural Society: $1675; Services communautaires de Prescott et Russell: $2,112; Club de l’amicale du Village de L’Orignal: $1,170; Eastern Prescott Russell Minor Hockey: $205; Breakfast with Santa: $294; Vankleek Hill Fiddle and Dance Association: $205; Club de Reveil Vankleek Hill: $434′ Seniors Christmas Gala: $280; Vankleek Hill Jr. Cougars: $205.

Budget talks continue Monday, February 11 at 7 p.m. at Champlain Township in the council chamber at 948 Pleasant Corner Road East and are open to the public.