Quesnel council voted May 5 to provide $3,500 in base funding to the new North Cariboo Seniors’ Council. (Photo courtesy of City of Quesnel)

Quesnel council provides base funding for new North Cariboo Seniors’ Council

The $3,500 will help pay for office space, insurance and phone and website expenses

The new North Cariboo Seniors’ Council (NCSC) has already made a lot of progress, and the City of Quesnel will be supporting the council’s start up by providing $3,500 in funding.

At the May 5 electronic meeting, council voted to use $3,500 from its Council Initiatives fund to help the NCSC pay for insurance, office space rental and office expenses during its first year.

Coun. Mitch Vik, who is council’s liaison to the NCSC, says the NCSC met with the City of Quesnel April 21, and they had a great conversation and clarified some logistics around communication.

“As part of that conversation with the City that day, we were also asked to consider some areas the City might be able to provide support, considering the council is new and is just finding its feet and may require some support, so the council did draft a letter,” said Vik.

Vik was excited to share with council that the NCSC now has a home at the Spirit Centre. It was able to negotiate a sharing of office space with the Quesnel Downtown Association so a sub-let agreement was struck, with the City of Quesnel signing off on the agreement.

“I can tell you that move in has occurred, and that’s going swimmingly,” said Vik.

“It’s a huge, important step for this council, having a physical presence where in the future, people will be able to come in and approach the volunteers or staff; it’s really important to have that physical presence.”

Vik says getting to this point is the result of successful grant applications the NCSC made to Community Futures and the Community Foundation, and those two grants have funded the expenses of office equipment and branding the NCSC, including creating a logo, advertising and the creation of a website.

“Another really important step for the council as it moves forward is to have that presence and branding,” said Vik.

Vik was asked to articulate some of the needs of the NCSC from the City, understanding this is a new group that was more or less spawned as a recommendation of the City of Quesnel’s Age-Friendly Initiative, and this new group, although it has been very successful in getting grants to kick-start its development and its start-up, there are major items with which the seniors’ council would certainly like to see some help.

In a letter to council requesting the start-up funding, NCSC director Evelyn Towgood thanks council for the opportunity and encouragement to get the NCSC going in Quesnel.

“In just a few short months, we are already seeing great success in the start up of this important council to serve our local seniors,” she wrote. “We have formed the council, had success in winning grants, secured office space, and we will continue to assess and serve as many needs of our local seniors as possible, with the help of many organizations. As may well be understood, the start up of any venture, does take time and money. We would like to respectfully request the help of the city to fund some of the most important items for us to be successful.

The NCSC is requesting $3,500 from the City, which includes $1,000 for insurance for the council’s first year, $1,260 for office rental space in Spirit Square for the first year, and $1,240 for phone and website domain expenses for the first year.

Mayor Bob Simpson told council this request comes at the urging of the City.

“In a meeting we had with senior staff, myself and the executive of the NCSC, we actually asked them to ask us to cover at least the first year of their expenses, so this is at our initiative,” he said. “The logic for that is they really are a function of an initiative owned by council; the Age-Friendly Initiative is a council initiative, and we worked very hard with the disparate seniors groups in our community to bring this single council together, and they’re taking on the responsibility for what we own as an Age-Friendly strategy and action plan. As a consequence, one of the things we didn’t take into consideration as we mapped out the transition from a city council committee to a standalone council for seniors is that transition phase of getting insurance and getting a space and getting all those things you need to get a presence.”

Simpson says the City requires the insurance, and they invited the NCSC to articulate what it saw as its base funding.

“It’s quite potential in future grants that they will be able to start getting their own base funding, but I think to unburden them this year so they don’t have to sweat that and they can just get on with the work they’re doing, I think was appropriate,” he said.

“The final piece I think council should consider is an ongoing relationship with this group. We have ongoing relationships with other groups that we believe are important to the community, so I believe for Budget 2021 and beyond, we should take a look at whether or not we want to have that ongoing finical relationship with this group.”

Martin Runge proposed the motion that the City support he NCSC out of the Council Initiatives fund.

“I think FSAC should be given direction to build a long-term relationship with this particular group because it is a child of council and it is serving a very important function for us,” added Simpson.

Council voted unanimously in favour of providing $3,500 from Council Initiatives this year and to have the finance committee to look at the 2021 budget and beyond if there are long-term financial implications.

Vik told council the NCSC received a Union of British Columbia Municipalities Age-Friendly grant for $15,000, which will fund the work of the co-ordinator and help create a living document for the community that provides information about housing opportunities for seniors.

Vik says the NCSC has also applied for other grants, including a Northern Health IMAGINE Community Grant, which would be to help seniors stay active, and two United Way grants pertaining to food security and food sustainability for seniors.

READ MORE: Quesnel receives $15,000 age-friendly grant

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