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City pledges $1.9M in grants and loans to downtown projects

This week’s finance and administration committee meeting saw the approval of $1.9 million in grants and loans toward projects in the city’s downtown core

The city is poised to pledge $1.9 million in loans and grants toward builds and renovations in the city’s downtown core, with the city’s finance and administration committee voting in its favour. 

Their decision needs to be ratified during Tuesday’s city council meeting, but it’s rare a finance and administration committee decision is overturned because it’s the same group of people voting. 

The funds will be administered through the city’s Community Improvement Plan and come in six forms, including the Tax Increment Equivalent Grant ($819,596), Façade Improvement Program ($167,675), Planning Fee Rebate Program ($15,000), Building Permit Fee Rebate Program ($105,950), Residential Incentive Program ($298,450), Feasibility Grant Program ($15,000) and the Multi-Residential Interest Free Loan Program ($487,713).

Approved projects include: 

  • Creation of residential suites on the top floors at 96 Larch Street
  • Façade improvement at 124 Elm Street
  • Façade improvement at 158 Elgin Street
  • Conversion of a former school into residential units at 291 Lourdes Street
  • Building of a new two-storey office building at 10 Beech Street
  • Establishment of a restaurant and upgraded signage at 81 Larch Street
  • Creation of an outdoor theatre at 131 Durham Street

Community Improvement Plan supports such as these are a “key tool to stimulate economic activity in our city and address the reuse and restoration of lands, buildings and infrastructure,” Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo said in a media release issued by the city. 

“Not only do they support and leverage private investment in key areas of our city, but they also support the goals of our Community Energy and Emissions Plan by encouraging the development of compact, complete communities.”

Jakubo chaired this week’s meeting, at which the creation of an outdoor theatre at 131 Durham Street garnered the lion’s share of the committee’s attention.

The project in question is The Refettorio, a $2.8-million effort of YES Theatre for which city council is expected to debate a $50,000 grant during 2022 budget deliberations scheduled to begin later this month. 

The project’s proponents requested $115,000 from the city’s Façade Improvement Grant and $30,000 toward building permit fees and a feasibility study. 

YES Theatre’s $145,000 Community Improvement Plan request wouldn’t have come as a surprise to the city’s elected officials, as it was included in the proposed funding breakdown they were presented with last month. 

At issue this week, however, was the fact the façade improvement contribution they requested came in at $100,000 greater than their policy’s upper threshold, which some on city council were concerned might set a precedent for future applications.

A resolution by Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan to pare down the request to adhere to the existing policy was defeated and the full amount requested was affirmed in a subsequent vote.

If this sets a precedent, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland said that he’s OK with it. 

“They’re taking a literal hole in the ground and making it into a vibrant and unique outdoor theatre,” he said, clarifying that unlike most applicants, this one was for a non-profit organization. 

“They’re taking a literal hole in the ground and making it into a vibrant and unique outdoor theatre.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for 


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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