Visits to the Community Resource Centre have seen a sharp increase during the first two months of 2017 compared to the same months last year, said Powell River Employment Program (PREP) Society executive director Lyn Adamson, who is asking Powell River Regional District for more funding this year.
Adamson and centre manager Martyn Woolley appeared as a delegation before the regional board’s committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, March 9. The committee was slated to discuss financial support for the non-profit society’s community centre on Joyce Avenue.
“We’ve really seen the demand get higher and higher,” Adamson told the committee. “We’ve noticed people are coming in a little more hungry and desperate, that’s why my ask is higher this year than last.”
The centre spends an average of $12,000 per year on food to supplement what it does not receive in corporate, church or private food donations.
Last year, the regional board provided a general grant-in-aid of $25,150, of which funding is split equally between City of Powell River and the four electoral areas.
This year PREP has asked for $49,000. Adamson explained that the additional money would be going toward continuing to keep the centre open six days a week.
“We’re hoping that the community will come forward to fund our Fridays and Saturdays,” said Adamson.
Adamson said those added two days per week cost an additional $26,000 for the centre to operate.
She added that this fall staff noticed those using the centre were having a hard time with the wait between Thursday and Monday brunch, so they dug into their reserve funds to keep the centre open on Fridays and Saturdays.
After Adamson’s presentation, municipal director Maggie Hathaway commented that she supported the continuation of the centre as it provides much-needed support in the community.
“It’s one of the biggest and best services in this town for people who are challenged in different ways and provides them with a nice life and it makes me proud to live in Powell River,” said Hathaway.
Electoral Area C director and committee chair Colin Palmer suggested that the committee might want to consider establishing a service to provide a more stable funding model for the centre’s operating budget.
At $49,000, it is getting to be in the range of regular service funding, not grants-in-aid, he added.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said she did not support providing the full amount PREP was asking for, but thought that providing $30,000 in 2017 was a fair compromise.
Hathaway said she supported the idea of establishing a service, but in the meantime it was important to make sure the centre had enough funds to continue in 2017.