Yellowknife's City Hall. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio
On Monday, City of Yellowknife councillors approved a plan to spend down approximately $260,000 that was left over from a Covid-19 economic stimulus package.
The city plans to spend down the money through three programs that will see business licence fees waived, and grants set up for festivals, events, and local businesses.
For the first time, the city will also allow grant money handed out through the Covid-19 recovery business grant program to go toward rent payments or employee salaries.
The funding comes from what remains of $780,000 in federal “safe restart” money that was meant to help the city’s economy emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Councillors approved a plan to spend that money in May 2021, but by this September over half of what was directed toward helping businesses and property enhancements had not been used, and so the city began to develop a plan on how to spend it.
After looking at other municipalities’ Covid recovery grant programs and speaking with the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, city administrators proposed three programs that were approved this week.
Of the total budget, $30,000 is allocated to covering the cost of waiving business licenses, while another $30,000 will go toward a festivals and events recovery program.
The majority of the funding – $200,000 – will go toward business grants to help businesses remain stable. The Covid-19 recovery business grant program will direct $10,000 grants to Yellowknife businesses meet their most significant needs, such as making lease payments, providing competitive pay or bonuses to employees, or for technical support to bring their business online.
The festivals and events Covid-19 recovery program will direct $5000 grants to support and encourage festivals and events to return.
“Yellowknife festivals and events drive diversity, culture, recreation, and economic development in our city,” explained administration in the recommendation to council, explaining offsetting costs caused by Covid will help allow events to bring people together again.
Under the business licence fee waiver program, the city will waive business licence fees for eligible businesses until the end of August 2023. Administrators explained this program provided a way to help all businesses, which may not need or be eligible for the other grants.