Making a case for cash
Over a dozen groups request special grants

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Feb 18/00) - He might be the Snow King, but Anthony Foliot is humble enough to ask the city for a hand with his snow castle costs.

"As a Snow King, I'm working seven days a week on the castle," he said. "I have received some corporate sponsorship, but nothing to pay for the King position. The bulk of the task falls on the Snow King's shoulders, and my wallet."

Foliot made one of 16 presentations to the city's corporate services committee Tuesday night, requesting special grant funding for this year.

The non-profit groups, everyone from the golf club to the youth volunteer corps to St. John Ambulance, are asking for a total of $400,000 in grants.

Foliot has been creating his Snow Castle on Yellowknife Bay for six years. Tourists and residents alike visit in droves every winter for skating, plays and charity events.

The city has budgeted only $100,000 for special grants this year, said committee chair Bob Brooks, making decisions on who gets funded difficult.

"This meeting is specifically being held to hear presentations and ask questions. We will adjourn until Feb. 22, and will make decisions at that time," he said.

For three hours, presenters tried to prove how their project would help the city.

One major request came from St. John Ambulance executive director Bruce Coomber. He showed up with dozens of volunteer first aiders and children from the group's youth program and asked for a $45,000 grant.

"Because of government cutbacks, all of our funding comes from what we generate by first aid training," he said. "We may have to turn some events down (for first aider supervision) if we don't have the resources."

The NWT Council for Disabled Persons asked for a whopping $75,500 in order to improve accessibility in Yellowknife's public buildings and spaces.

Aggie Brockman, director of the council, said a great deal needs to be done in order to allow disabled people to comfortably move about city streets and spaces.

"We want to use the funding to set up systematic ways to involve persons with disabilities into project planning," she said.

The city's street-widening project on Franklin Ave. is an example of planning without consultation, Brockman said.

"The grade between the street and the curb has made it that much harder to power up to it for a person using a wheelchair," she said.

Not all funding requests bordered into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Five organizations asked for $10,000 or less, including the Yellowknife Ski Club, which asked for about $3,000 to buy a new snow tool, and Folk on the Rocks, which requested $6,250 to help pay for a new gate and sound booth.

The Yellowknife Dog Derby Association also requested $6,000 to help defray the costs of the race since the Rotary Club no longer runs the annual event.

Race marshal Dave Anderson said the derby, which is now an accredited World Cup dog racing event, has received thousands of donation dollars, including purse money, from Yellowknife businesses.

"The big picture, for those who choose to look at it, is that we'll be having a world-class race this year," he said. "Next year, we're targeting for a Diamond Derby, with TSN coverage and a bigger purse."

In the end, the shortage of money made some people willing to ask for a smaller pot.

Snow King Foliot was willing to scale back his $20,000 request.

"I notice there were a lot of worthy causes here tonight," he said. "Since there's only $100,000 available it seems rude to ask for the full $20,000."