Council approves $780,000 in federal funding for COVID-19 relief measures

Shot of downtown Yellowknife on Franklin Avenue. (Photo by Bailey Moreton/100.1True North FM.)
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The city has voted to move ahead with spending a chunk of federal COVID-19 relief funding, despite councillor concerns the targets of the spending wouldn’t be specific enough.

In April, the federal government confirmed more than $780,000 in funding would be sent to the City of Yellowknife, money that aims to alleviate the economic impacts of the pandemic. This is an extension of funding that was sent at the beginning of the pandemic.

Around $230,000 will help go towards reducing the cost of business license fees and another $230,000 aimed at adding incentives for property enhancements.

City administration had already been directed to narrow down how the business relief money will be spent. 

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Councillor Shauna Morgan also wanted city administration to present more information to council on the property enhancements funding, saying she wanted to see more details about how the money would be spent prior to spending this “large amount of money.”

“The contractors in town are currently extremely busy and run off their feet,” she said. “I’m not convinced this money is going to kickstart an area of the economy that’s stagnant,” she said.

Bassi-Kellett said the funding groups were based on the council’s priorities, and looking at where this money could best support the economy, adding that the administration wanted to get moving with this funding.

Mayor Rebecca Alty said the city would be working with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce to identify the best priority projects.

Councillor Cynthia Mufandaedza said she trusted city administration to spend the money in a way that would best benefit the economy.

There’s also $65,000 to extend Somba K’e Park’s washroom hours, $80,000 to support communications, $80,000 to support policy/legislative work, and $95,000 to hire summer students.

Other ideas had been previously written off, like waiving parking meter fees and offsetting some of the 2.5 per cent tax increase council had called for in its budget, because those benefits were seen as being short lived.

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