Last-minute grant keeps doors open at Men’s Centre, Women’s Centre not happy

Nanaimo Men’s Resource Centre director Theo Boere arrives on the job where $250,000 in funding has proven key to keeping the centre open.

By Toby Gorman
The News Bulletin


Theo Boere, director for the Nanaimo Men’s Resource Centre, announced Monday that lack of funding meant the facility’s doors would close permanently next month.

Boere’s subsequent announcement on Tuesday was more upbeat.

“I just received an e-mail and our application to the B.C. Gaming Commission has gone through,” said Boere. “We will receive a one-time grant for $250,000. We won’t be closing our doors in October.”

Prior to Monday’s announcement, Boere had expressed frustration toward the provincial government for not being able to determine which ministry men’s resource centres fall under and the ensuing lack of funding.

Last year, similar women’s programs received almost $47 million provincewide from the government, as well as $750,000 from the Law Foundation of B.C. Men’s resource centres received nothing despite coroner recommendations stemming from a fatal car crash in Nanaimo two years ago that killed two people after a father abducted his child.

John Les, the Minister for Public Safety and B.C.’s Solicitor General, has arranged a seven-member committee to determine which ministry will take over the responsibility of men’s resource centres.

“I’ve never had an application go through so quickly so it is clear we’re on their radar,” said Boere. “I’m convinced Mr. Les expedited it and the money will allow us to stay open for the forseeable future. But we still have to hammer out a long-term plan.”

Les was not available for comment before deadline.

But not everybody is happy about the windfall.

Colleen Parsley at the Nanaimo Women’s Centre says her programs “didn’t receive a single dollar” from the $47 million, and that providing money to the men’s centre means ensuring men retain power in domestic issues.

“There are anger management courses for men at Nanaimo Family Life called Beyond Blame, so is it a wise use of taxpayers’ money to fund duplicate programs?” Parsely said.

Parsley said the Nanaimo Women’s Centre operates on $45,000 and counsels more than 3,000 women and children.

“How many men are victims of violence?” she said. “We had to close (Wednesday) due to a lack of funding so there are people who aren’t getting our services. We’re not happy about this announcement at all.”

Until now, Boere has relied on “patchwork donations” to keep programs like anger management, parental alienation counselling and emotional counselling running. Boere says the NMRC requires $1 million annually to provide regular services.

Parsley said her staff doesn’t have the time or resources to spend on lobbying for grants.

“We’re busy with clients all the time,” she said.

This year, the NMRC secured $97,000 in funding in total, forcing Boere to lay off three of five staff in March. The women’s centre has two part-time staff.

The money will allow the NMRC to operate all of its services for at least the next six months, but Boere said a long-term plan will be needed to secure its future.

The NMRC has also organized a fundraiser called Keeping the Dream Alive. It is scheduled for Nov. 3 at the Coast Bastion Inn’s ballroom. The event will feature a reception, dinner, auction and dance.

Tickets are $80. Please call 716-1551 for more information.

The Nanaimo NewsBulletin

Nanaimo's Community Newspaper