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Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program shifts to pre-pandemic funding amounts on January 1

​In the 2015-2018 budget cycle, City Council approved a Recreation and Culture Fee Assistance Program for low-income individuals. Since that time, it has become a nationally recognized subsidy program that is setting new standards and best practices that other municipalities are eager to copy and implement.

Early in the pandemic, when most activities shut down, the City's Fee Assistance Program was not seeing the uptake that it previously had. As a result, administration advised Council there were opportunities to improve the program temporarily to make it more pandemic-friendly. City Council approved temporary policy changes that will expire on December 31, 2021.

Until the end of this year, individuals can apply for up to $200 per person for a local activity of their choice. As of January 1, 2022, the amount available will return to the normal, pre-pandemic $150 per person in each of two funding cycles per year (January–June, July–December).

"The amount was temporarily raised because of the lack of applications for funding in the first half of 2020, which allowed for a top up," says Lori Harasem, Community Engagement Specialist with the City of Lethbridge.

"Many families who were facing unprecedented income loss appreciated this opportunity as we saw jobs being eliminated or employers having to shut down as the pandemic waves peaked. We saw applications from a lot of new families and individuals, many of whom had never thought they would ever need to use a program such as this. "

Harasem goes on to say being able to help people take part in the community knowing the benefits socially, physically, and mentally, were probably more meaningful than they had been in the past. The benefits were also felt by those offering the activities, as many of those organizations and facilities had shut down and significantly affected by closures.

Pandemic funding programs such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) were considered eligibility factors, but those have since ended by the federal government. Eligibility will once again be based on the household Low Income Cut Offs or being a recipient of a long-term program like Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) or Income Support, amongst other programs.

To apply to the Fee Assistance Program or to understand eligibility requirements, please visit www.lethbridge.ca/feeassistance. For those without a computer or internet access, please call 311.

For Public Inquiries:

Call 311 |  Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.