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$8,000 emergency funding request from Cairn Housing Society leads to food security discussion among city council

Grande Prairie City Council opted to provide the Cairn Housing Society with a one-time emergency funding boost of $16,000 and an additional $8,000 for food service.

According to Cairn’s request, the money will be utilized to help with payroll and provide food for residents of the society.

After losing a significant corporate funder, the Cairn Housing Society has been quite vocal regarding their need to meet the status quo and originally requested $30K in emergency funding from council, which officials say is just enough to “limp them along” until a new funder is identified.

The request for food support sparked debate in the chambers on Monday with the question of whether one-time payments are useful in emergency scenarios being brought up by numerous councillors.

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Ultimately, the request was approved five to four, and Mayor Jackie Clayton says the choice to provide the funding is just the first step in having a larger conversation surrounding food insecurity in Grande Prairie.

“The conversation expanded from there to what are the opportunities in our community, and we know significant numbers of people are facing food insecurity, we know that the increased cost of food overall is a significant burden to families and individuals,” she says. “This was one of the first steps in our opinion in regards to supporting the Cairn specifically, but we do want to have a larger conversation about food security in our community overall.”

As a result, city council directed administration to come back with a report regarding all of the organizations and different initiatives that address food security in the city, to inspire a more “fulsome” conversation around the topic.

“One-offs in council’s opinion are not how we solve issues, having a full conversation in regards to having a full conversation in regards to overlapping initiatives and finding opportunities, having a process to serve the needs of those who are looking for those programs will be a much better approach,” Mayor Clayton says. “One-time funding sometimes leads to a broken system and so to have a better approach to something that is so significant and so important in our community was where the conversation was- let’s not have these one-offs, let’s have a system that serves everybody in regards to food security.”

Following the report from city administration, the Mayor says a full “round table” discussion with representatives from different food service organizations will occur and could bear fruit “in the next few weeks.”

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