The City of Nelson has announced a plan to support capital infrastructure projects, business improvements and housing during the pandemic.
The plan includes the diversion of parking meter revenue, normally used for paving projects, into downtown business improvements.
The city has created a capital infrastructure team that will identify and co-ordinate economic stimulus funding that is expected to come from the provincial and federal governments.
“We have already been lobbying the provincial government to fast-track projects we know are on their books, including long-term care beds, the new Kootenay Lake Ferry, additional affordable housing projects, and an upgrade to the Baker Street-Highway 3A four-way stop intersection,” Mayor John Dooley said. “These projects are much needed and create good-paying jobs.”
The city will also expand its EcoSave program energy retrofit program, move forward with its community e-bike program and will release details of both programs in the coming weeks.
Council will prioritize city capital projects that employ local contractors and employees, and utilize local goods and services.
“We could have cut back further on our spending and laid off employees further dragging down our local economy,” said Dooley.
“Instead, we have chosen to continue our spending where it is sensible and spurs local economic activity. We have built up capital reserves that will allow us to do this without raising taxes or fees or impacting our future financial sustainability.”
The city’s plan for business improvement includes:
• Maintaining city funding to those organizations that council sees as key to Nelson’s economic recovery, including the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, Visitor Information Centre, Nelson Innovation Centre and the Cultural Development Committee.
• Through the city’s new Plug the Meter program, contributing 50 per cent of parking metre and parking fine revenue between May 1 and August 31 to support businesses with storefront improvements, energy upgrades and the transition to doing business online.
• New storefront improvement and heritage revitalization programs, with details to be released soon.
City assistance with housing will include:
• Agreements with the Kootenay Christian Fellowship housing project at 520 Falls St. to donate a small street right-of-way, design and build the offsite utilities with the city’s utility crew as the contractor, and offer to finance these improvements if necessary.
• Creation of new secondary suites by waiving the $500 development fee and providing a financing option for utility upgrades.
“In light of the impacts of COVID-19, we had one homeowner who was not going to proceed with their secondary suite,” said city planner Pam Mierau, “but with these new changes, it looks like they will be going ahead. These changes will make building a secondary suite more affordable.”
Dooley said a business outreach team, consisting of city and business representatives, will continue to reach out to businesses and non-profits and will be consulting with the community through an online ThoughtExchange exercise in the near future.