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Youth institute funding request a 'slippery slope': councillor

Grey Highlands was weary about a request for operational funding from the Hanley Institute
The Hanley Institute in Flesherton.

Members of Grey Highlands council have expressed concerns about a request for the municipality to provide operational funding for a local youth organization.

At its meeting on Dec. 6, council considered a letter from the Hanley Institute requesting that the municipality consider providing up to $55,000 in funding for staffing costs to allow the organization to have a full-time executive director.

The institute is a charitable organization based in Flesherton that offers programming and support to local youth in Grey Highlands.

“We respectfully ask that Grey Highlands council consider including operating funds in their 2024 budget to staff the Hanley lnstitute full time We calculate an additional $55,000 is required to have a full-time position for 2024,” stated the letter, which was signed by Institute board chair Kelsey Neely and board members Nicole White and Jason Barton.

Members of council praised the Hanley Institute for the excellent work they are doing in the community, but expressed concerns about the municipality supporting operational costs for an outside organization.

Coun. Paul Allen said it could potentially result in many similar requests coming forward.

“I think this is opening up for other groups to come to council,” said Allen. “This is a slippery slope.”

In 6-1 vote (with Allen opposed), council approved a motion to send the financial request from the organization to the 2024 budget discussion and to invite the Hanley Institute to appear as a delegation in front of council to explain the request in more detail.

“I’ve thought long and hard about this one, the request is substantial,” said Coun. Dan Wickens. “I really would like to see a presentation from them.”

Other members of council pointed to the difficult budget situation the municipality faces in 2024 - with a double digit tax increase projected in the first draft of the budget.

“It is a big ask. We have a very tough budget,” said coun. Nadia Dubyk, who agreed with getting further information from the Hanley Institute.

Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen said council, due to the budget situation, must be “cautious” when considering the requisition, but he supported having the group come to council for a presentation.

“The financial request is substantial,” said Nielsen. “Personally, I don’t think Grey Highlands is in a position to support such a request.”


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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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