Council approves utility rebate program for businesses

·2 min read

Jasper Municipal Council approved the establishment of a utility rate rebate program for businesses during its regular meeting on Nov. 2.

Whether a business was closed or not, owners still are faced with bills for solid waste (garbage) and recycling fees.

“The discussion at previous council was that this was a burden on businesses that have faced a very challenging economic environment over the past couple of years and that it would be equitable for the municipality to offer some kind of form of rebate,” said CAO Bill Given.

The intent behind the program is to assist business owners who faced business closures due to COVID, either through government closures through March 17, 2020 until Oct. 31, 2021, or for other reasons related to COVID.

The program will have a maximum funding of $190,000 to be provided from the COVID-19 recovery reserve.

Rebates will go to qualify business based on days closed due to public health restriction, up to a maximum total rebate of $2,000 per business.

Coun. Scott Wilson asked if this amount would cover utilities if a business was closed for the past two years.

Given replied that the amount would be sufficient, especially since administration was not aware of any businesses in Jasper that were closed for the entire pandemic.

The program is expected to be funded on a first-come, first-serve basis until the program funds are expended.

Applications will begin to be accepted no later than Dec. 1 and remain open until March 31 or until all program funds have been used, whichever comes first.

During the Oct. 12 committee of the whole meeting with the previous council, administration suggested that they felt that an appropriate approach for council to consider would be to rebate fees associated with solid waste (garbage) and recycling for business that were impacted by the closures due to COVID and health restrictions.

Administration also suggested that the best approach that would provide the most privacy for business owners while also being reflective of the impact of public health restrictions would be to base off the number of dates that a business was fully closed or partially closed due to public health measures.

During the Nov. 2 meeting, Coun. Wilson made the motion that council approve the establishment of a utility rate program.

With no debate on the motion, Mayor Richard Ireland then called to question, and with all in favour, the motion was carried.

Administration will return to council to report on the program once it closes, and it will report to council if the program is oversubscribed should council wish to provide additional funds.

Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh

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