Won’t you help your neighbours?
By James Jackson
The City of Waterloo is now accepting applications for the second round of funding through its Neighbourhood Matching Fund.
The deadline to apply for the $12,000 in funding is Oct. 8. The city has already distributed $8,000 for five community improvement projects through the first half of this year.
Started in 2012 as a three-year pilot project, the fund will have provided $50,000 to support grassroots projects throughout Waterloo when it wraps up this year.
“I think it’s been very well received by council, staff and the community,” said Kristy Smith of community programming and outreach services at the city, who helps facilitate the program.
Since 2012, 29 of 41 projects that have applied to the fund have received some or all of the money they have requested, up to a maximum of $2,000.
Last year alone, 23 applications and one re-submission were received by the city, requesting $40,204.27. Funding was provided for 17 projects and the 23 applications was a significant jump from the eight the fund received in 2012.
A sub-committee of the safe and healthy advisory committee rates each application based on a host of eligibility criteria, including the project’s impact on the community and the degree of public participation.
One of the beneficiaries last year was the Brighton Yards Housing Co-operative, which was awarded $1,500 to improve its community playground by installing shade sails to help shield children from the sun.
Tigger McCullough, the president of the board of directors at the co-operative, said without the $1,500 they likely would have had to fundraise for at least another year before they could have afforded the shade sails.
“We never would have had it up in time for this summer,” she said. The co-operative has 45 families and 26 children all under the age of 16 who use the playground, and the shade sails have helped bring the community together since it gives parents and kids alike a place to meet outside.
“Our kids are outside playing every day now,” she said, which was nearly impossible when the playground was under the intense heat of the sun. There are no mature trees near the site.
One of the conditions for funding is the ability to secure matching dollars or in-kind donations. The co-operative raised $800 from rain barrel sales and bake sales, and contributed the rest in labour and donated materials.
Smith said the fund has generated more than a three-to-one return on the city’s investment and is currently working on making the matching fund a permanent budget item starting in 2015.
For more information, including a list of criteria used to judge the applications, visit http://www.waterloo.ca/en/living/neighbourhoodmatchingfund.asp or call (519) 886-1177.