North Bay city council has unanimously approved the transfer of $150,000 from reserves to keep the city's Growth Community Improvement Plan program funded, plus a discretionary $350,000 earmarked to cover applications received this year.
The GCIP top-up funding will be used to encourage additional development within the community, according to a City of North Bay post announcing council's decision.
"It is estimated that the approval of 20 applications in 2020 – representing approximately $792,000 in municipal funding – will result in private investment totalling $24 million, the creation of 71 new jobs and 121 new residential units," it reads.
Coun. Johanne Brousseau, who is the chair of council's community services committee, elaborated on some of the program's standard practices.
"A review team examines and scores the applications, following a set of established criteria. The total score determines the amount of funds allocated to a project," she said during the council's last regular meeting. "The finance department will send the funds to the applicant only when the project is completed and it has had an inspection by staff."
Prior to the vote, the GCIP reserve fund had been depleted to approximately $90,000, but with applications in 2020 averaging $39,000, the city noted only two more financial requests in similar amounts could have been approved.
Adam Curran, policy and business development planner for the city, noted in his report requesting short-term funding it would "sustain the Growth CIP program until such time that the annual contributions from council through the operating budget are equal to the funding required for the program."
GCIP received initial funding of $600,000 for the program in the city's 2020 budget "plus a base budget increase of $120,000 which was to increase annually by $100,000. Due to the pandemic and the levy pressures in 2021, the base budget was not increased as planned," advised Curran.
Coun. Dave Mendicino gave the GCIP program a glowing review while saluting the private sector for its confidence in continuing to invest in North Bay – even in difficult economic times.
"We're seeing it work in front of our very eyes. This is a significant tool in supporting the expansion of new and existing businesses. The numbers speak for themselves," he said. "The fact that staff are coming to us, needing more money for this program, is good news."
Coun. Bill Vrebosch also supported the top-up funding and wondered, 'When will we see what businesses this money went to? Public accountability of where this money has gone to? Will we get to see that at some point?"
Brousseau responded that city staff would be back "before the year's end with a report," that will include before and after photos of the improvements. She also noted property owners will be given the opportunity to showcase their own projects before the city makes a formal announcement.
According to the City of North Bay, its Community Improvement Plan allows the municipality to support improvements and redevelopment within defined specific project areas. North Bay's program is split into four different target areas: Downtown, Industrial, Housing, and Waterfront. Each target area is then divided into its own set of guidelines and incentives.