Council is reminded that policy is pretty clear: We don’t give grants to charitable organizations.

By Pepper Parr

March 18, 2024


Part 2 of a three part series on funding BurlingtonGreen.

This cover policy  -anything else  pick up parts of conversation that could be repeated here

Especially the bit where Tim speaks up and how finance finds money

Burlington Green rents the Pump Station in the Beachway from the city.  The rent was reported to be $1000 a month.

During the debate on what to do about the financial support being asked for by BurlingtonGreen there was some mention of policy.  There is a policy in place directly related to providing funds to registered charities.

Here is what we were able to dig out policy wise:

In its Policy Statement the City believes that residents want to contribute to the quality of life in Burlington.

The policy was first approved in 2015, reviewed in 2021 and was due for a review September 30, 2023

Residents have great ideas about how to create both vibrant neighbourhoods and/or communities and may require support from the City for implementation of initiatives.

The City provides support for these initiatives with one-time funding for events, programs or projects that build community capacity:

    • The work the volunteers do is great community building, great environmental practice – but is the $50,000 annual ask the best way to fund it?

      To a registered not-for-profit corporation or a group of neighbours

      For areas within the geographic boundaries of the City of BurlingtonFor projects, events and activities that occurs on City of Burlington propertyProgram and services that benefit the residents of the City of Burlington andOrganizations that do not receive any other financial support from the City of Burlington

The following principles are taken into consideration when investing in the community:

      1. Community members want to contribute to their quality of
      2. Community members have great ideas on how to enhance their quality of life in the public realm.
      3. Community groups can be informal or organized (e.g. a group of neighbours on a street or a legally incorporated not-for-profit organization).
      4. Community groups sometimes need financial assistance to launch a program, project or event and the City agrees to support with one-time funding, provided that the group is not receiving any other financial assistance from the City.
      5. A community group can only receive funds once every five
      6. The funding program (approvals, amounts) will be at the discretion of the Manager of Community Development Services as identified in the


 Properties governed under another body, agency or business (e.g. school board, board or agency)

      • Private Property
      • Individuals
      • On-going financial support such as operating grants
      • Organizations whose purpose is related to political or religious activity
      • For-profit organizations
      • Foundations
      • Schools, hospitals and public agencies
      • An activity or project that conflicts with existing City policy
      • Annual fundraising events/projects
      • Organizations or groups of individuals organizing an event, program, project or activity that is in furtherance of a position either for or against an issue over which the City is a regulator or may have a legal interest
      • An event, program, project or activity that conflicts with City policies, Council decisions or directions

Policy Guidelines

 There are two streams for funding

Community Capacity Building Projects*
Application Period Accepted at any time Accepted once a year
Review Team Community Development Section with subject matter experts as required Cross department team to review feasibility of the proposal. May evolve to include community members as neighbourhood committees are developed
Review Period Once per month Three months
Criteria for Review ·    Completeness of the application including organization/event budget

·    Meets the eligibility criteria requirements

·    Demonstrates need

·    Linkage with the City’s strategic plan

·     Completeness of the application

·     Meets the eligibility criteria requirements

·     Linkage with the City’s strategic plan

·     Will provide a public benefit

·     Demonstrated community interest

·     Feasibility

·     Demonstrates on-going maintenance and upkeep

·     Ability of the community match the financial contribution from the City

·     Realistic budget

Implementation Project must be completed within one year. Project must be completed within one year of the contract



City Council shall:

      • Approve Community Investment Policy City Manager / City Treasurer shall:
      • Establish budget guidelines for the fund

Director of Parks and Recreation (or designate) shall:

      • Annually review how the Community Investment Fund was spent and identify areas that may require targeted engagement; and
      • Ensure service owner compliance with the Community Investment Policy and
      • Prepare the transfer of funds to the Community Investment Reserve if


The service owners for Organized Sport Support Services, Art and Culture Services, Environment and Energy Services and Recreation Services are accountable for adherence and direct administration of the Community Investment Policy, including communication to users and user groups.

The Manager of Community Development Services is accountable for the execution of the Community Investment Policy process.

Community Development Section to meet monthly to evaluate, review and allocate community investment for community capacity building and event initiatives.

Cross-department team made up of staff from public safety, maintenance, leisure, design and build and internal support and administration; annually review the project submissions. Other subject matter experts will be included in the review depending on the nature of the project.

The Manager of Community Development Services holds final responsibility over the Community Investment Policy including the assignment of designates and subsequent administrative processes.

Councillor Sharman consistent asked that attention be paid to policy and to be sure that they were not creating any new precedents.

During the debate Councillor Sharman expressed considerable concern saying: “I’m going to sound a little contrarian. We don’t give grants to charitable organizations. I appreciate that we have a high regard for BurlingtonGreen and we have some sympathy and I sense that we’re inclined to find a way to fund them where we wouldn’t fund most people, especially grant charities. And I find that a little disturbing, it seems somewhat hypocritical.

He later said: “I’m concerned about the precedent we are setting in the context of it, it would be inconsistent. We need to make sure we know what we’re doing for everybody. I’ll leave that with you.

Sharman’s last words on any grants were:  “Just to be clear, I’m completely happy with giving  BurlingtonGreen more money. I just want to make sure that we are doing it in the right context within the same set of procedures and policies.”

City Manager Tim Commisso pointed to decisions that had been made in the pat that would that might let Council decide to provide grant funds to BurlingtonGreen.

City Manager Tim Commisso seemed prepared to find a way around whatever policy there might be when he said: City Manager: “ We do allow in our procurement bylaw where services are unique. They really are exclusive and we have a history here; a one year track record of having this program delivered through community development funding. I do think it’s a bit unique, but I leave it to council to make the determination.”

Commisso later added:  “I would suggest given that, you know, we have counsel that you give us an opportunity to look at that, but I think the intent would be to report back on the potential for a grant in lieu of rent. So I think you should vote on something today. So it gives us direction.”

On Tuesday Council will be faced with:  $50,000 once or $70,000 a year forever. Maybe waive the $12,000 annual rent for the Pump House.

Allan Magi, the Direct the Executive Director of Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services   is expected to come back with some revisions and the City Solicitor Blake Hurley is expected to provide an opinion.  Will that be enough to let Council get away with skirting the policy in place?

The part that caught our attention is:  A community group can only receive funds once every five years.

This council seems prepared to put a line in the budget that basically puts Burlington Green on the payroll for life.

Part 1 of a three part series


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2 comments to Council is reminded that policy is pretty clear: We don’t give grants to charitable organizations.

  • Joe Gaetan

    In response to the the City Manager’s statement, a one time event is not a, “track record”. Did he really say that?

  • Grahame

    Burlington Green should be able to raise $50k quite easily through some fund raising events in a city as large and wealthy as Burlington.