The City of Red Deer is making more grant money available to help businesses and citizens overcome the many challenges posed by the pandemic.
City council unanimously approved an economic incentive”Leading Forward Plan” on Monday that will run for two years and is designed to create new opportunities for private-sector development.
General manager of development Tara Lodewyk told council that many experts say we are not immediately going to return to “normal” pre-pandemic days. She believes it’s therefore, time to “reboot” city programs, as well as the way the municipality connects with the community, communicates its vision, and inspires action.
“The pandemic taught us how to respond quickly and do things differently,” said Lodewyk, who mentioned easier online access to services and reduced tape. Although municipal dollars are limited, Lodewyk said the city is also committed to continue and expand some grant programs to help citizens and spur development.
The initiatives approved by council include:
– $100,000 in the 2021 operating budget to help people for the demolition of vacant and derelict properties rebates, expanding its scope to city-wide.
– $750,000 for residential and mixed-use development grants to foster activity in the downtown.
– $200,000 towards creating more residential dwellings in existing structures in the downtown
– And parking fees will be removed at 215 metered spaces to give motorists two hours of free parking to encourage more people to shop and do business in the downtown. This will cost the city $50,000 annually in lost parking revenue.
With an unemployment rate of 10.1 per cent in Red Deer, Mayor Tara Veer said the community will needs time to get out of “survival mode” and begin to re-invest in the economy, so it’s up to the city to lead the way by providing some incentives and relief programs.