Grey County will extend funding for community improvement plan

Grey County council has agreed to extend the life of its community improvement plan and continue offering economic incentive for work to increase the supply of affordable housing, adaptation and reuse of commercial buildings, and promote conversion of brownfield and vacant properties, among other initiatives.

At its meeting on March 9, county council approved a report about the program from the director of economic development, tourism and culture Savanna Myers, agreeing to continue funding it past its original end date.

In the report, Myers outlined the history of the program and recommended that the county extend it through to Dec. 31, 2025.

The program was first introduced by the county in 2019 and it provides financial incentives of various kinds to local municipalities and private businesses in order to spur and encourage economic growth.

The first two years of the program were at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the program was stalled. However, since then the program has shown significant growth and popularity.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we have seen a real rise in investment,” said Myers.

Over the five years of the program, local municipalities received a total of $100,000 ($20,000 per year) in county funds to be used in partnership with private funds to increase local economic activity.

Priorities for the program have been:

In 2021 the total investment of private and public funds was more than $2.2 million. In 2022, that number exploded to more than $22 million.

“Congratulations. That’s a huge figure,” said Myers.

The program was scheduled to close at the end of 2023, but Myers recommended a two-year extension to make up for the time lost to the pandemic.

“We really think it’s working,” she said.

The extension will also allow county officials to consult with local municipalities and business owners about the program and to prepare a future report on the viability of the program moving forward.

The program included the tax increment equivalent grant that was instrumental in the development of 142 units of attainable rental housing in the Town of Hanover. Myers said the agreement and bylaw for the Hanover project would be at county council for approval on March 23.

County council approved the report and its recommendations without comment.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,