Both the City of Port Alberni and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) have received grants from the provincial government that will be used to cover the costs incurred by COVID-19.
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District has received $485,000 in total funding from the province’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant, while the City of Port Alberni received $3,536,000.
The COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant was developed by the province to support local governments through the financial impacts of COVID-19. The purpose of the grant is to address COVID-19 response and recovery costs. The funding is supposed to be used for operational purposes, but can be used for capital projects if the projects are directly related to COVID-19.
During a board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, the ACRD allocated most of this grant funding.
“The approach we took was just to look at the impacts, because there were some significant impacts from COVID for 2020,” explained ACRD Chief Financial Officer Teri Fong. “We started with that, then looked at what our impacts are going to be moving forward.”
More than $220,000 of the grant went towards costs that were incurred in 2020 so that the ACRD could pivot to provide services during COVID-19. This includes additional cleaning at ACRD-owned buildings, making all meetings virtual and adding tempered glass to the reception area. The Long Beach Airport also had some lost landing fees and passenger revenue that needed to be covered.
Another $194,000 will go towards 2021 operating costs, including cleaning equipment for firefighter gear and emergency planning services.
Another $42,600 will be carried forward to 2022 for emergency planning costs.
The last $27,600 is still unallocated. After a committee of the whole meeting later this year, the board will decide whether to use this last bit of funding for park improvements or for enforcement of illegal camping. The board has until the end of 2021 to allocate all funding.
Port Alberni city council will be discussing allocation of the more than $3.5 million in funds during a council meeting on Jan. 25, said director of finance Andrew McGifford.