The City of Yellowknife is urging local businesses to apply for $10,000 grants to build or expand outdoor areas.
Janine Farmer, the city’s manager of economic development, said the money would help businesses “continue to operate or reopen as much as possible” as Covid-19 pandemic measures gradually lift.
“Yellowknife has a very short summer. Anything we can do to help [businesses] expand their outdoor season, to help them operate longer and to accommodate more patrons safely, is really our goal here,” Farmer said.
“It could be everything from using the sidewalk that’s adjacent to your business to building a patio or having a kiosk set up for non-permanent infrastructure that you can take in at the end of the day. We really want to be flexible.”
In addition to the outdoor space grant, downtown businesses can still apply for the city’s separate sidewalk patio program.
Jared Bihun, co-owner of The Garden with Niki Mckenzie, said the outdoor space grant helped them to create their open-air bar at the former Dancing Moose location this summer. The Garden, in Old Town, isn’t eligible for the downtown sidewalk patio funding.
“Downtown is great and all, but the tourist destination is definitely more geared to the historical Old Town, where things could be done with spaces but oftentimes aren’t,” Bihun said.
“There are only a couple of businesses in Old Town that are working on outdoor areas, so it’s really nice to see them being able to get funding.
“I applied probably the last or second-last week of May. I was basically told good to go before June, and June is when I got into my space and was able to start working on The Garden.”
There is a form to apply for the grant on the city’s website. There is no deadline to apply for the outdoor space grant, though it will likely not be offered during the winter.
“We haven’t made a fast or hard decision on that one, yet,” Farmer said. “I mean, it’s for outdoor spaces. Ideally, maybe we could look at pivoting or having a different program for indoor spaces for the fall. There’s nothing specific yet.
“We want to create a vibrant city and one that comes out of the pandemic with our businesses still here.”