Council approves $100,000 in support of local businesses -- Potentially 40 to 80 businesses could benefit from the program

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Grande Prairie businesses will be able to access grant money for training staff thanks to a decision Monday at city council.

Council designated $100,0000 from the Economic Recovery Capital budget, allocating the funds to training grants for business.

“The $100,000 from the Economic Recovery Fund for the training grant is another layer of what this council has been able to do to support businesses,” Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton said, “It opens an opportunity for businesses that have other training needs, not just social media and promotional advertising training. It’s training that can be used for various things within their day-to-day business.”

Some training examples brought up were Pro Serve (training for staff serving liquor), supervisory or even human resources training.

Applications for the grants, which will see businesses reimbursed for the cost of registering staff in the courses, will open in the coming weeks.

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The grant will reimburse 25 per cent of the costs of courses costing more than $300 per person to a maximum of $2,500 per business, or 50 per cent of the cost of courses costing less than $300 to a maximum of $1,250 per business.

Grande Spirit plays a big role

Grande Prairie City Council approved an action plan laying the foundation for a short term action plan in regards to affordable housing.

“The affordable housing action plan was to deal with immediate needs of struggling residents, leveraging existing assets and seizing funding opportunities as we prepare for the future,” Clayton said. “Adopting a long-term multi-faceted strategy is still necessary and will be a focus for administration. This just gives us an agreed-upon starting point as council continues down the road and has an immediate fix for immediate needs.”

Transferring 19 mortgage-free properties currently owned by the city to the Grande Spirit Foundation resulted in an extended discussion by city councillors.

Grande Spirit currently has people in its affordable housing program housed in those units.

“The discussion was whether or not there was more value in selling the (properties) and using the dollars potentially for a housing project through another method or if transferring this to the Grande Spirit Foundation, which in turn would be an asset they could borrow against, was of better value. In the end, council supported the transfer of the (properties) to Grande Spirit Foundation.”

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“We may see up to 40-50 individual applications served, and depending on what the Grande Spirit Foundation is able to do with leveraging their assets, it could be quite significant for our community. The great thing about this is it is dealing with immediate support for our community, and council is very optimistic about what this can do in the near future.”

Folk Fest Funding

The Bear Creek Folk Festival will retain its Large Scale Tourism funding for the 2022 festival.

The $75,000, was designated for the fifth edition of the festival, which was supposed to occur last year was postponed because of COVID-19. This year’s event was also postponed due to the coronavirus.

“Bear Creek Folk Fest’s decision to postpone for this year was disappointing,” Clayton said. “I was hopeful that it would be the first event our community would be able to enjoy together. For them to make good planning decisions, they postponed it until next year. With the uncertainty of what the summer will look like, in regards to large gatherings, council decided to carry forward with the support we will give them so they can spend that in 2022 for artists’ bookings and deposits, et cetera.

“That, in turn, has no financial impact right now. It also allows us next year, in our large-scale tourism funding, to potentially support other events and make 2022 a year full of great events. Council was really optimistic about what 2022 would look like for Bear Creek Folk Fest as well as other large-scale tourism events.”

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Phase 3 disappointment

Clayton was asked for her reaction to the province’s decision not to begin Phase 3 opening after Monday evening’s session of council.

“I am disappointed that there wasn’t any layer of Phase 3,” Clayton said. “I’m not completely surprised given the numbers that we have seen recently. Our council was (hoping) to see some of Phase 3 opening, but within a week, we are hopeful that the province will announce another layer of Phase 3, potentially.”

As an example of Phase 3 reopening church services could increase to 25 per cent of capacity along with indoor-seated events like movie theatres.

Clayton added council wants businesses in the community to know what is happening.

“Council was always looking for clear and consistent information for businesses on expectations during the reopening,” Clayton added. “Our local businesses are very eager to hear from the province about what they can expect with this reopening, and today’s announcement, I’m sure, was disappointing to many businesses.”

“If it is clearly defined and communicated, it is easier for businesses to work around the parameters and assist the province in achieving those (pandemic target) numbers.”

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