Opinions

Vice over virtue

Publication YearIssue Date 

It's deplorable that non-profit groups at the university and the general community lost a valuable source of funding after Finance Minister Pat Nelson brought the axe to bear.

Because of the recent fiscal changes to the Alberta budget, every Community Lottery Board across the province, including Calgary's, no longer exists. They were once responsible for dispersing a small chunk of Alberta Gaming's funds to provincial non-profit organizations. It is a tremendous loss, given that for such little money, the CLBs directly affected the quality of volunteerism in Alberta. Ask any non-profit group just how far a few thousand dollars can go and they'll tell you the grant money they receive is some of the best money spent in Alberta.

The strength of the CLBs came from the fact that volunteer members of the community freely decided where the money should go while the government bankrolled the cheques from Alberta Gaming's $1.2 billion budget. CLBs represented approximately $50 million of this. Several University of Calgary groups received grants last year, including your friendly student newspaper. We have a plaque on the wall thanking the Calgary CLB.

However, it appears now the Alberta Advantage demands that in fiscally-restrained times, purse strings must be cut. Even with last year's ridiculous energy rebates totaling $487 million, one cannot accuse the government of using different criteria to affect the same results. They chop mercilessly when they need to, shrug their shoulders and say it has to happen this way. They've never been dishonest in this respect.

However, they still shrug when they say $300 million from Alberta Gaming's budget needs to go to debt reduction. They say there are other grants out there, even though 350 applications--each with eight extra copies apiece--are sitting in the Calgary CLB office right this moment because the Calgary CLB's deadline was March 15, three days before the budget came down. Hopefully, they haven't been shredded already.

Because of this lack of foresight, it's also apparent the government didn't consider other options. Most people understand budgets need to change, but the hundreds of groups across the province seeking CLB money deserved fair warning. They've spent thousands of volunteer hours putting the applications together, as a CLB application requires a great deal of preparation and information.

Therefore, the loss is deplorable. Consider some of the university beneficiaries of last year from the Calgary CLB: The University of Calgary Athletics Club received $125,000 to upgrade facilities at Foothills Athletic Park. The Students' Union received $150,000 for MacEwan Hall's new sound system. The Department of Biological Sciences received $14,900 to develop a trail guide for the Barrier Lake Forestry Trails. NUTV received $27,000 to upgrade their editing facilities. Each of these grants went directly back into the communities they served.

As it stands, CLBs no longer exist and there is a rumbling of action, especially among the groups whose applications are currently useless. Many are contacting their MLAs and writing letters, trying to convince the government that if they must chop, they must do it in a fair and appropriate fashion.

For more information, contact NUTV Executive Director Kevin Allen at kcallen@ucalgary.ca or 220–3392.

Section: 

Issue: