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Downtown incentive grant praised as RMWB council approves further $2.6 million

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Council has unanimously authorised an additional $2.6 million for a grant program encouraging enterprise homeowners to spend money on downtown properties. The vote was made throughout Tuesday’s public assembly. Councillors Keith McGrath, Kendrick Cardinal and Loretta Waquan have been absent.

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The municipality’s Planning and Improvement division says this system has been a hit since launching in June 2020. A evaluate of this system shall be introduced later this yr. A revised incentive program shall be pitched to council for subsequent yr’s municipal funds.

This system is known as the Downtown Revitalization Incentives Program (DRIP). Enterprise homeowners in downtown can apply to enhance exteriors of their buildings, inside renovations, fund new or upgraded patios, fee murals or begin beautification tasks comparable to gardens.

The grants fund as much as half of those tasks. Funding is offered after building and an inspection by the municipality.

Greater than $7.1 million in grant funding has been authorised for 197 tasks. This system ended on the finish of April however there are 123 functions nonetheless being reviewed. About 80 per cent of functions are for exterior enhancements.

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Amanda Haitas, the RMWB’s senior supervisor of planning and growth, stated 162 functions have been made throughout the latest part. Greater than half have been despatched one week earlier than this system’s deadline.

A report back to council says this system has a robust return on funding for the municipality. On common, each $1 spent by the RMWB as a grant results in $2 invested by the personal sector. This causes a 1:3 charge of return.

“The big variety of functions means that property homeowners and companies are keen to spend money on our downtown,” stated Haitas.

This system was praised by delegates who spoke to council throughout the assembly.

Mila Byron, a Ward 1 councillor from 2007 to 2010 who’s now on the parish council for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and board of the Centre of Hope, stated downtown has benefited from this system. Charitable organizations have been in a position to fund tasks that will have been tough to assist by way of fundraising, she stated. Native contractors she’s met with have additionally been keen about this system.

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“This program has made such a visual distinction in our downtown and has given our group not solely an enormous financial funding, but additionally a significant increase of morale and confidence that mayor and council believes in our downtown,” stated Owen Erskine, chair of the Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Bryce Kumka, chair of the Wooden Buffalo Improvement Advisory Committee, stated the committee hopes this system continues. He additionally pitched the grant embody demolitions for buildings that can not be renovated.

“We’d prefer to see this system proceed. It’s been extremely efficient at not solely beautifying downtown,” he stated. “It speaks to me there are nonetheless tasks that may very well be full with additional funding.”

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