Council in Petrolia Seeks Advice Regarding Educational Grants for the Benefit of Students

Posted: October 16, 2020

Council in Petrolia Seeks Advice Regarding Educational Grants for the Benefit of Students

At the 2021 Draft Budget deliberations in the Town of Petrolia, it was discussed that the annual grant of $10K USD that the municipality receives on behalf of the Nicol Scholarship Foundation should be gifted by the Municipality back to the Foundation to provide an additional scholarship for a student leaving Lambton Central Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCCVI).

During the discussion, the following sections of the Municipal Act were shared with Council to ensure that all decisions were informed and made with knowledge of their position to grant funding.

This section provides the basis for which a council may make a grant “for any purpose that the council considers to be in the best interest of the municipality”, which must have a reasonable connection with the municipalities permissible objectives under the municipal act.

Municipal Authority Regarding Educational Grants for the Benefit of Students
Restrictions, Financial Matters

17 (1) Sections 9, 10 and 11 do not authorize a municipality to,
(e) make a grant or a loan;

This specifically states that the general powers granted to a municipality in Sections 9,10, and 11 of the Municipal Act do not authorize a municipality to “make a grant or loan”

2 Municipalities are created by the Province of Ontario to be responsible and accountable governments with respect to matters within their jurisdiction and each municipality is given powers and duties under this Act and many other Acts for the purpose of providing good government with respect to those matters. 2006, c. 32, Sched. A, s. 2.

This section of the Municipal Act provides that a municipality must be responsible and accountable “with respect to matters within their jurisdiction”, the Act provides the authority “for the purpose of providing good government with respect to those matters”

Section 107, Municipal Act, 2001
General Power to Make Grants
107 (1) Despite any provision of this or any other Act relating to the giving of grants or aid by a municipality, subject to section 106, a municipality may make grants, on such terms as to security and otherwise as the council considers appropriate, to any person, group or body, including a fund, within or outside the boundaries of the municipality for any purpose that council considers to be in the interests of the municipality. 2001, c. 25, s. 107 (1).

Municipalities must exercise its powers within its jurisdiction provided by the Municipal Act. Education is not within a municipality’s jurisdiction.

In a small community the gesture to show leadership by making this kind of donation should be commended, as it focuses on community education. As this question has been raised previously by the Foundation, and by current Council, staff were requested by Mayor R. Brad Loosley to obtain legal advice in May of 2020 regarding this subject.

Legal counsel provided Council with advice and opinion on May 11, 2020 in camera, and in the rise and report Mayor R. Brad Loosley thanked Mr. Gray for his guidance regarding the Will and terms regarding the Nicol Scholarship. (LEGAL 2020-02)

In absorbing the ongoing changes due to COVID-19, and changing the way that information is delivered it is understandable that Council welcomed a reminder of the specifics of the Act, and that legal opinion had been sought in relation to the Nicol Scholarship.

This type of legal advice, guidance and opinion is included in the annual legal budget for the Town of Petrolia.

Mayor R. Brad Loosley said, “We do what is legally and morally right. Seeking legal counsel is part of that decision-making process so that we can act accordingly where there is doubt, and where we are looking for ways to do something good for our community within our rights and abilities. Council agrees that there are other ways that our community can support the Nicol Scholarship Fund by donating to the Petrolia Community Fund, or by community members helping to reach out to previous recipients to help build the Fund.” Mayor Loosley added, “The idea comes from the right place, but as a Municipal Council we will have to look to the community to work together to come up with a way to support this important Fund so that is remains available to students for the future.”