April 30, 2020
Economic Stimulus Pillar
NELSON, BC – The Mayor and Council’s Economic Stimulus and Financial Stability 25 Point Action Plan focuses on three pillars: 1) Financial Plan, Fees & Taxation, 2) Economic Stimulus Program and 3) Community Support. Council released details of the Financial Plan, Fees and Taxation pillar on Monday, April 27th, the Community Support pillar on April 29th, and is releasing details of the Economic Stimulus Program here today.
The Economic Stimulus pillar is designed to support Nelson’s economic recovery and focuses on three key areas: capital infrastructure projects, business improvements, and housing. The first focus area, Capital Projects, is designed to get people back to work and create economic spin-off across the city. Council has requested staff to prioritize City capital projects that employ local contractors/employees and that utilize local goods and services.
“We could have cut back further on our spending and laid off employees further dragging down our local economy,” said Mayor Dooley. “Instead, we have chosen to continue our spending, where it is sensible and spurs local economic activity. We have built up capital reserves that will allow us to do this without raising taxes or fees, or impacting our future financial sustainability.”
The City will be expanding its nationally-recognized EcoSave program in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities under their Community Energy Efficiency Plan. Council will also be moving forward with the community E-Bike program. Details of both these programs will be released in the coming weeks. Additionally, the City has put together a Capital Infrastructure team that will ensure we, as a community, are poised to reap the benefits of economic stimulus funding that will come out from the provincial and federal governments.
“We have already been lobbying the provincial government to fast-track projects we know are on their books, including long-term care beds, the new Kootenay Lake Ferry, additional affordable housing projects, and an upgrade to the Baker Street-Hwy 3A four-way stop intersection,” says Mayor Dooley. “These projects are much needed and create good-paying jobs.”
The second focus of the Economic Stimulus part of Council’s Action Plan is Business Improvement. It employs four strategies: 1) maintaining City funding to those organizations that are key in our economic recovery, 2) creating a new economic stimulus fund, 3) creating a new storefront improvement program, and 4) a new Heritage Revitalization Incentive program.
The final building block of the Economic Stimulus strategy is to continue to support the construction of additional housing in the city. Council recently took a number of steps to ensure the new 39 unit workforce housing project located at 520 Falls Street will get out of the ground. This included agreeing to donate a small street right-of-way to the project operator, Kootenay Christian Fellowship, agreeing to design and build the offsite utilities with the City’s utility crew as the contractor, and offering to finance these improvements if necessary. Council is also hoping to stimulate the creation of new secondary suites by waiving certain fees and providing a financing option for utility upgrades. The City has one of the most progressive secondary suite policies in the country, and its new Laneway Housing program has received national attention.
“In light of the impacts of COVID-19, we had one had one homeowner that was not going to proceed with their secondary suite,” says Pam Mierau, Director of Development Services, “but with these new changes, it looks like they will be going ahead. These changes will make building a secondary suite more affordable. Anyone considering a secondary suite, please give us a call.”
Council’s measures build upon the unprecedented financial support programs offered by the provincial and federal governments. The federal programs are valued at $82 billion, and the B.C. government is providing an additional $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and funding for people, businesses and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The provincial government’s COVID-19 Supports for Businesses and Individuals in B.C. information web page outlines over 40 programs that are available to support all sectors of our communities.
“We have always been a leader when it comes to managing our finances and supporting our community,” says Mayor Dooley, “our Businesses Outreach team continues to reach out to our businesses and not-for-profits, and we will be consulting with the wider community soon through ThoughtExchange, so please look for that – your input is critical to a successful recovery. I’m confident Nelson, as we did in the 1980s, will come back even stronger.”
Mayor John Dooley – (250) 352-8236
Colin McClure, Chief Financial Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
See addendum below.
ADDENDUM – Economic Stimulus Program Pillar
City capital projects and other expenditures that generate spending within Nelson and region will be prioritized.
In conjunction with the FCM Community Energy Efficiency plan, the City will enhance the Eco-Save Energy retrofit program.
Organizations that are directly supporting businesses and/or can generate additional grant dollars as part of the recovery will continue to be fully funded if required. This includes funding to the NAEDP, VIC, Nelson Innovation Centre and CDC.
Staff will prioritize the development of a Heritage Revitalization Incentive Program to be implemented in 2020.
Allow the 39 unit workforce housing project located at 520 Falls Street to proceed, the City has offered flexible financing to do some of the utility work and will transfer Falls Street Lane to Kootenay Christian Fellowship (if necessary) for $1.00 subject to notice to the public.
The $500 secondary suite development fee will be waived for the next 12 months.
Utility fee upgrades for secondary suites will be financed, where requested, by the City to a maximum of $10,000 for a period to not exceed 15 years at the Municipal Finance Authority 15-year borrowing rate; these secondary suites cannot be used as a short-term rental until the debt is paid off.