The Regional District of Nanaimo will receive an additional $715,000 from the B.C. government as part of the COVID-19 Safe Restart operating grants.
In November 2020, the RDN received $1.169 million from the province to cover revenue losses and COVID-19 related costs. Of those funds, the board of directors approved $72,270 to go to third parties, including Gabriola Community Bus Foundation and Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department. The rest was incorporated to address increased costs in 2020 and 2021 including $99,000 for personal protective equipment, nearly $175,000 for information technology and security, over $100,000 in RDN facility upgrades as well as over $500,000 in lost revenue from recreation related to the closure of facilities and reduced services.
RDN board chair Tyler Brown said he was not expecting the additional restart funds but that the RDN is “very grateful” that the province provided it “because it all helps.” RDN staff will provide recommendations on where to allocate the newly received funds in the coming months and a report will go to the board of directors.
“We’re in an OK financial situation and we can very thoughtful about this [allocation],” he said.
The $715,000 grant is part of $10 million that will be distributed to the 27 regional districts by the end of March, according to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. It represents the last of the $540 million in safe restart grants the provincial government is allocating to local governments since the start of the pandemic.
In November 2020, $415 million was provided to 188 local governments across the province, of which $394 million went to municipalities “because they were facing the bulk of the the revenue risks and expenses,” a ministry spokesperson, Trish Rorison, said. In February, the province announced applications were open for a $100 million fund that local governments and Treaty First Nations could apply to for projects related to a “temporary-surge response” to homelessness and health and safety needs. The last piece of the safe restart operating grants, announced in early March, is $15-million for local governments to improve their development approvals processes for housing projects.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder