|Although the current Town Council, since elected in October of 2017, expressed a high priority for an expansion of the Didsbury Library, the motion Council passed at the June 3, 2021 Special Council Meeting put an end to that. The motion, Resolution #274-21, threw support behind the Didsbury Library applying for the maximum allowable on a large stream CFEP (Community Facility Enhancement Program) Grant to fund a library project. While the motion itself appears to be rather simple, the ramifications are far more profound.|
There are many aspects regarding the impact of the June 3 motion most of which this Council undertook behind closed doors making them off limits for any public discussion. However, there is enough information available to the public to allow an open discussion on the abrupt end of any prospect of a library expansion occurring during this Council's term. Let us explore those aspects.
The large stream CFEP Grant is administered on a yearly basis with an annual intake of June 15 and results' notification in December. It is an application for matching grant funding of $125,000 to $1,000,000. As per the June 3 motion, the Library will be applying for the maximum ($1,000,000) on the proposed $2,000,000 project. Based on the timeline alone, the results notification will not come until December which is beyond the term of the current Council. The project therefore now rests on the shoulders of the next Council to determine the fate of any Library project, a project that now spans well in excess of 8 years with little to no progress.
To compound this conundrum, there is absolutely no guarantee with the application for the CFEP Grant. There is absolutely nothing saying the Library will be successful in their application attempt. In fact, considering the CFEP funding has been slashed by one third and considering there is an anticipated massive surge of applications being submitted for the June 15 intake and considering many project applications are requesting significantly less than 50% of the total project budget, the likelihood of the Library being successful in their application is dismal indeed. Council, with its motion, has delayed any progress on expanding the Didsbury Library on a wing-and-a-prayer notion.
Some would argue that it is fiscally responsible to apply for grants to fund projects in town and that's a hard argument to counter. Others would suggest that basing potential progress in town on a pie-in-the-sky hope is equally irresponsible. What might seem to be reasonable is to wonder if the large stream CFEP Grant was the only funding stream available for this project? Were there other funding streams or even alternate options for the project that could, should and may have been considered?
And in the event that the CFEP Grant application is unsuccessful, which I fully expect, then what? Wait for another grant application? Put the Library expansion on hold for another year? Look at other options and possibilities? I am so disappointed that this Council wasn't able to facilitate the library expansion project for the community.
Whatever the reasoning and whatever the logistics, the high priority the current Council placed on the library expansion project at the beginning of their term has failed to result in any expansion at all. All the planning and even the establishment of a special committee to explore expansion has been insufficient to provide tangible expansion progress. At the end of the day, although this Council gave the impression that the library expansion was high on their priority list, I am left wondering if that was just political lip service.