The City of Prince Albert will not contribute additional funding to a community-based anti-gang strategy because the organization hasn’t made a formal request for more funding.
City council voted 7-2 on Monday to receive and file a report looking at funding options for the Bernice Sayese Centre’s Gang Reduction Strategy.
Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick spearheaded the effort to receive and file. He said there’s nothing wrong with supporting community based organizations like the Bernice Sayese Centre, but council needs to be careful about micro-managing those organizations.
“I think we all agree with gang reduction strategies,” Ogrodnick said during Monday’s meeting. “My concern is that we as a council don’t impose our thoughts and beliefs on external agencies.”
Ogrodnick is a former president of the Prince Albert Historical Society. He said the agency often came to council with funding requests for staff and other needs, but would have disliked having the City become too involved in the affairs. He said funding requests should come from the organizations themselves, and not city councillors.
City manager Jim Toye said they’ve received some questions from the Bernice Sayese Centre about bylaws and other policies, but additional funding hasn’t come up in the discussion.
“We haven’t had any type of information coming from them (saying) they need anything special from the City,” Toye told council.
City council requested a report on additional funding for the anti-gang strategy last July. Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp spearheaded the effort.
Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp requested the report back in July, and was one of two councillors to vote against the ‘receive and file’ decision on Monday. Lennox-Zepp said the community needs to reach out to community groups more often.
She also said the Bernice Sayese Centre made funding requests back in 2016 that city council denied, so there may still be a need.
“I think that we can be, as a city, proactive in reaching out to groups and organizations … to learn more and see what we can do to assist them,” Lennox-Zepp told council.
“I think it is appropriate for our city to reach out to organizations … instead of just waiting for groups to come to us.”
The West Flat Citizens group received a $20,000 grant to prevent and reduce gang activity back in April 2019. They were one of 10 Saskatchewan community-based organizations (CBOs) to receive funding from the provincial government.
In his report to council, Toye wrote that the City had no funds set aside for the program. He suggested the City ask the province for more funding if the West Flat Citizens Group needed it.