The City of Penticton is set to receive $4.7 million as part of the provincial government’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant.
The newly created funding initiative is aimed at supporting local governments as they deal with increased operating costs and lower revenue due to COVID-19.
Penticton mayor John Vassilaki was thrilled with the announcement, noting that the money will help recoup the reserve funds the city used to get through COVID-19 earlier in the year.
“With Penticton City Council heading into its budget deliberations later this month, the announcement of this grant couldn’t come at a better time and will consequently give council the option and means to immediately replenish the reserve we relied on earlier this year as we responded to COVID-19,” said the mayor in a press release.
“On behalf of council and all residents of our community, I wish to thank the B.C. Government for this financial support and the positive impact it will have on the city’s ability to continue delivering the critical services our residents depend on.”
City staff will seek direction from council during the upcoming budget talks on how best to manage the grant.
In the meantime, the money will be used to replenish the city’s depleted Financial Stabilization Reserve, the primary source of emergency funding that allowed the City to provide tax relief to residents in 2020.
Staff is expected to recommend a portion of the grant be used as part of the 2021 budget as an alternative to drawing down other reserves needed to address revenue shortfalls projected through next year.
B.C.’s government has earmarked up to $1 billion of additional spending targeted to address COVID-19 impacts and restart plans of local governments and public transit services across the province, conditional on matching federal contributions under a 50/50 cost-sharing criteria.