(NEWS FILE PHOTO)

City of Port Alberni renews its façade program

Program has brought in $1.5 million in investment

Port Alberni’s façade improvement program will return for a seventh year, and this time the approval process will start earlier than in previous years.

City economic development manager Pat Deakin asked council to give the program early approval for $50,000, which is allocated in the proposed 2022-2026 Financial Plan. The early budget approval is designed to make it easier for business owners to secure a contractor while still working within the city’s timeline for the façade funding process. The city has received feedback for the past three years from businesses that the timeline has coincided too closely with the summer building season.

The façade improvement project sees the city matching funds to a maximum amount for approved business renovation projects.

Staff looked at four options before recommending early funding approval. Other alternatives included adopting a different allocation, waiting until the 2022 budget is approved (by mid-May), or terminating the program and finding another way to support the small business sector.

Deakin said Port Alberni’s program has worked so well for the past seven years that other communities have adopted the program using Alberni’s template.

“In six years the program has been in existence we’ve paid out $383,000. According to our records it’s brought in $1.56 million in investment,” Deakin said. There have been 50 businesses who have participated in the façade improvement program, including the Alberni Valley News.

Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot administers the program for the city. In six years they have received 92 applications. Some have been turned down because they didn’t meet criteria or were outside city boundaries. Deakin said the basic amount for approval is $5,000. “We know it’s leveraging a huge amount (4.6 times original investments) of money from the business owners.”

developmentMunicipal GovernmentPort Alberni