The District of Clearwater, District of Barriere and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District have all received grant funding through the federal Safe Restart Agreement that is being allocated to B.C.’s local governments.
Through the grant, the DOC received $894,000, the DOB received $730,000 and the TNRD was allocated $947,000.
The federal government has invested more than $19 billion to the provinces to “safely restart their economies and make our country more resilient to possible future surges in cases of COVID-19.” It focuses on helping economies open up safely and provide funds for child care and public transporation, as well as help provinces provide personal protective equipment for essential workers and assist local governments in reopening and operating costs.
The provincial government distributed $425 million to B.C. municipalities and regional districts as per it’s economic recovery plan.
“I am very pleased to see the speed at which the federal and provincial governments have delivered this funding to local governments in B.C.,” said UBCM president Biran Frenkel in a press release.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, local governments have taken steps to manage costs and rethink budgets, but communities are contending with significant revenue shortfalls. These funds will be available for immediate use and provide greater clarity as budgets are developed for the coming year.”
DOC Mayor Merlin Blackwell mentioned the funds at the beginning of the Nov. 3 regular council meeting. He had signed off on two separate grants, the Safe Restart Agreement grant, as well as a grant worth roughly $390,000 from Trans Mountain from a benefits agreement.
“It’s a really nice day to have that happen before you come into a council meeting,” he said.
A list of grants that the DOC has received this year is in their upcoming newsletter. While the most recent grants will not be on it, the list is still quite impressive.
“It’s over $6 million,” said Blackwell. “It’s been a good year for that considering everything else that’s been going on in the world.”
District of Barriere Finance Officer Chelsea Young said the municipality was happy to hear they would be receiving the funding, and commented, “Council will be discussing the allocation of these funds at future budget meetings.”
UBCM and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities lobbied for federal funding from Canada and an allocation delivery approach, in April of this year. This followed upon UBCM’s outreach to the provincial government on the financial impacts on local governments due to COVID-19 and the decision by the province to provide liquidity to local governments through a package of amendments to the property tax framework.
Funding details are still being developed for additional funding through the Safe Restart Agreement, according to a UBCM press release. This includes additional funding for BC local governments, including $100 million to support local governments as they address the needs of vulnerable populations and $15 million to improve development approval processes.