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Mayor looks to boost business recovery with grants

Proposal would consider waiving planning fees, incentivizing revitalization work.
Bill Mauro
Mayor Bill Mauro is proposing the city consider a grant program to support business recovery. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – Mayor Bill Mauro is looking to boost recovery efforts for local businesses with a system of grants, as Ontario begins easing COVID-19 restrictions. A proposal from the mayor urges city council to consider a program that would waive planning fees and incentivize revitalization efforts.

Mauro’s proposal, which will be debated by council on Monday, suggests basing a new grant program around an existing framework developed by the city’s planning department, but never funded.

That framework, known as a Community Improvement Plan, includes two grants to support businesses: a fee/permit grant that would waive fees for planning approvals and building permits, and a construction grant that would cover five per cent of costs for revitalization projects, to a maximum of $25,000.

Planning fees can range from $1,200 to $7,000, while permit fees range from $12 to $25 per square metre.

The program as designed makes the grants available only to businesses in “strategic core areas” – the north and south downtowns, and the Westfort and Bay/Algoma business areas.

Mauro proposes the Community Improvement Plan framework be reviewed by administration, with updated recommendations on program parameters and sources of funding.