EDMONTON – The city approved a request Monday from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton for $60,000 in bridge funding to get the organization through the year.
“We need the money,” said Tamie Perryment, the society’s executive director. “If we didn’t have the money we’d be closing pretty quick…or volunteering all of our time.”
In a report to the city’s community services committee, the not-for-profit organization explained it expected to exhaust all its operating funds by the end of October. The group said the $60,000 would keep operations running in the short term and give organizers time to implement a sustainability plan.
“The need for us to have these kinds of discussions with the city and the province has been important,” said Perryment. “We have had no sustainability funding as an organization at all. So it was time.”
In addition to the $60,000 from the city, the province has sent letters approving two grants of $50,000 each to the group as long as it meets certain conditions. The wildlife society said that funding will keep it going until at least March.
Organizers are looking for more long-term ways to finance operations, including increasing donations. It’s also looking at sustainability and communications plans.
One city councillor thinks what the society provides is ultimately a city service – one he hopes the city could contribute to on an ongoing basis.
“The Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, we recognize plays a pretty important role in our city and in conjunction with our own Animal Control folks,” said Michael Walters. “As the city grows, and we’re encroaching more and more on natural areas, the need for rehabilitation, saving the lives of animals grows. In this economic climate, they’ve dealt with some donations issues, so I think it’s important for us to step up.
“It’s a small amount of money for a big service.”
Walters is also hopeful the province will see its role in the long-term sustainability of the group.
“I think they recognized that it’s an essential service,” said Perryment of the city’s decision. “I think they recognized the work that we do. And I think they recognized the role that we need to play together in order to do that.”
The society provides care and recovery for injured and orphaned wildlife, as well as education, research and a hotline.
During its 26 years in the community, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton has treated thousands of animals. Last year, 1,800 animals were helped. So far, in 2015, approximately 1,900 have been treated.
In August, the group issued a public plea for support after donations dropped.
It’s the only wildlife shelter in Edmonton and the only rehab centre north of Red Deer that takes in all native and migratory birds and small mammals.
In the past three years, Perryment said demand for services went up by 20 per cent. The group currently has six full-time and three part-time employees. Expenses for 2015 are in the neighbourhood of $490,000 and the remaining cash reserve sits at $18,000.