B.C. government confirms it will not release gaming grant review before new year
In response to inquiries from the Straight, the B.C. government has confirmed that it will not be releasing the Community Gaming Grant Review within its self-imposed 60-day deadline.
The review, which was lead by Skip Triplett, was to have been made public by December 31. But after being contacted by the Straight today, Jeff Rud, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, wrote in an email that the government will not be meeting its deadline. This was confirmed in a follow-up phone call.
“The Community Gaming Grant Review will be released, in full, early in the New Year. It was initially anticipated that we would release the report and announce next steps within a 60-day period,” wrote Rud. “But these are important decisions and additional work is required in order to thoroughly review the report and determine next steps based on options provided.”
Susan Marsden, president of the B.C. Association of Charitable Gaming, expressed dismay that the government had not warned the non-profit sector of the missed deadline.
“We’re disappointed that the government didn’t see fit to issue a press release to inform charities and not-for-profits, who have been waiting very patiently but eagerly for the announcement as they plan their next year’s budgets,” said Marsden, who added that she had been fruitlessly checking the gaming review website every hour for updates. “Only after the media has inquired are they making a statement that indeed, the review and their plans are not going to be released to the public until early in the new year. Once again, there is no definitive timeline. ‘Early in the new year’ could be mean as far as March.”
Marsden urged the province to keep the not-for-profit and charitable sector in the loop. “It would be very much appreciated by the not-for-profits and charities across the province if the government could communicate with them and be precise in their communications,” she said, adding: “They had credibility up until midnight today, and now there’s real concern that they don’t intend to address this issue appropriately.”
The gaming grant review was conducted over the summer and delivered to the province October 31. It was organized by the province in response to mounting pressure from not-for-profit and charitable organizations—including arts groups, many of whom were abruptly excluded from the grants after eligibility rules were changed in 2010 to allow only youth-oriented arts organizations to qualify. Charities and not-for-profits have also been calling on the government to honour a 1999 memorandum of agreement to allocate one-third of gaming revenues to the non-profit sector.
The review’s terms of reference included reviewing and providing options for existing legislation governing community gaming-grant funding; the grant funding formula; criteria and eligibility for community gaming grants; processes involved in applying for and receiving grants; multi-year funding models; and the future role of government in community gaming grants.