Province revamping community development programs

‘Single portal’ procedure should make applying for funding easier, AMM official says

The province has rolled out a simpler way for communities to apply for funding to support community economic development.

Last week Indigenous and Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said the province is revamping its community development programs and has created a single-application process to apply for funding through programs including Community Places, Community Planning Assistance, Hometown Man­itoba, Neighbourhoods Alive! — Community Initiatives, Neighbourhoods Alive! Neighbour­hood Renewal Fund, and Partner 4 Growth.

Core funding remains for these programs while the province focuses on “planning for better outcomes that build better communities or sustain important community efforts,” Clarke said in a news release.

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Projects funded during the fall intake must be completed by end of March next year.

Joe Masi, executive director of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities says municipal leaders welcome the new “single portal” application process.

“It’s going to help ease the application process to some of these smaller programs,” he said.

Masi also co-chaired the Rural Economic Development Strategy, a draft report released just before the election in 2016, calling for improvements in the way economic development services are delivered in rural areas and citing too much program overlap and duplication.

The report’s stakeholders also included the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, the Rural Development Institute, Aboriginal organizations and the Economic Developers Associa­tion of Manitoba (EDAM).

Masi said the simpler application process doesn’t create the single agency approach they’re looking for, but it is one step towards a more rationalized system.

“This is a good start to what’s needed and it’ll help,” he said.

“In the end what we’re looking for is kind of that one-stop-shop agency that brings together a lot of business-type programs as well that both municipalities and entrepreneurs can use.”

The province says it will continue to review and improve community development pro­grams.

The news release said pro­jects that will be given priority during this fall’s intake will be initiatives that improve accessibility, develop green space and active transportation, and provide support for newcomers.

Projects that involve partnerships with two or more community groups and are regional in nature will receive additional priority consideration.

The application deadline for this fall’s intake is September 11.

About the author

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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