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Posted: March 27, 2020

City supports Elk Valley Pride Festival

By Erin Knutson

The City of Fernie granted the Fernie Pride Society’s (FPR) request for support for its fall slated 2020 Elk Valley Pride Festival at Monday’s (Mar. 23.) council meeting.

“We will be looking for the same level of assistance as previous festivals if possible. Including decorating Fernie City Hall, and the raising of the Transgender and Pride flags, as well as a festival opening address from either Mayor Qualizza or a councillor,” said Courtney Baker of FPR in a letter submitted to council.

Baker mentioned the society’s gratitude for mayor and council support in the letter.

“We very much appreciate the ongoing support not only for the Elk Valley Pride Festival but also for ongoing initiatives from the City of Fernie council and staff,” said Baker.

Council’s decision to contribute $1,000 in-kind was teleconferenced in as part of Fernie’s new COVID-19 measures.

The request on behalf of the society followed the submission of a grant application to Heritage Canada (HC) for festival support.

Local government support is part of the approval process for HC as outlined in a 2019 form submitted to council by FPR. It demonstrated prior in-kind support on behalf of the city of Fernie for the amount of $500.

Clarity over the actual amount requested was in question by mayor and council. The amount for $500 was amended to and confirmed at $1,000 after an update was received, demonstrating it would more accurately reflect the staff time required for the festival.

“We had an update that is more in the line of $1,000 in-kind than the $500 listed in the 2019 report,”said Corporate Officer Suzanne Garand.

Mayor Ange Qualizza voiced concerns over the processing of grant applications on behalf of community organizations. She stated that she wanted the process to be fair to everyone, given the timing of FPR’s request for funds.

“We need a system where we don’t set our community up to fail because we want to have a process in place to consider these applications all at once. We are going to reward this mid-year, and I’m going to tell you that someone is going to come in three months and we’re going to say no. I want a system built and to tighten up our process,” said Qualizza.

Standardizing the system was addressed by the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Michael Boronowski,who mentioned that application deadlines differed depending on the event date.

“We have work to do with corporate administration and finance to review our process. We want to create different windows for council so we can respond to funding matching opportunities based on events,” said  Boronowski.

To which Qualizza replied: “Ms. Baker knew the application was coming. Even if they said we don’t have a formal application today, but we will have one in January, so we know. I support the Pride Society, and I think it’s a great idea. I just really want to tighten this process up,” she said.

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