June 18, 2024

Council authorized increasing a program that already spent $9.1 million downtown, however issues about this system’s prices and effectiveness had been raised.

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Council has authorized a $2.4-million growth of a grant program that improves the look of downtown buildings.

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Supporters of this system instructed council this system has been a hit because it was authorized by council in June 2020. However issues had been raised concerning the prices of this system and whether or not it has been a hit for bringing folks downtown.

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The Downtown Revitalization Program (DRIP) has been used for every part from portray facades and upgrading patios to commissioning murals and beginning gardens. As of Tuesday’s council assembly, DRIP has authorized $9.1 million for 275 tasks at buildings throughout downtown Fort McMurray.

The grants fund as much as half of a undertaking’s price range. Funding is supplied after development and an inspection by the municipality. The growth consists of 18 months to finish tasks as a substitute of 12 months. Tasks for bettering accessibility and security at the moment are additionally eligible for grants.

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The provincial constructing and Jubilee Centre considered from the nook of Predominant Road and Franklin Avenue in Fort McMurray Alta. on Saturday January 30, 2016. Vince Mcdermott/Fort McMurray At the moment/Postmedia Community Photograph by Vince Mcdermott /Vince Mcdermott/At the moment Workers

Public presenters dispute DRIP’s deserves

DRIP has traditionally been praised effusively by presenters at council conferences. However Fort McMurray resident Rene Wells argued this system has failed to perform its objectives, and doesn’t tackle the foundation causes of issues like crime or vacancies.

He feared DRIP was making some recipients depending on the municipality for aesthetical enhancements, and accused some enterprise house owners of benefiting from DRIP whereas doing nicely financially. He was additionally pissed off with DRIP’s price ticket and listed a number of failed tasks to show “previous councils have been hooked on spending.”

Wells mentioned council might assist downtown’s economic system by investing in applications encouraging entrepreneurship, supporting younger entrepreneurs and boosting native satisfaction.

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“I’d urge council to give attention to the lengthy recreation, not on what some might consider are fast and simple fixes. Handouts that solely profit just a few on the expense of everybody else isn’t getting that job achieved,” mentioned Wells. “It’s left to you as politicians and leaders with the troublesome job of rising our economic system. DRIP funding doesn’t do it.”

Michael Durocher, chair of the RMWB’s downtown revitalization committee, additionally referred to as this system a profit for downtown. He mentioned DRIP might enhance security by funding streetlight and safety tasks. Robbie Picard, proprietor of Robbie Picard Media, mentioned this system has its faults and agreed with a lot of Wells’ issues about funding. Nonetheless, he felt DRIP “is by far the very best program I’ve ever seen.”

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“We have to deal with companies on this neighborhood much more prone to deal with the social revenue sector,” mentioned Picard. “We’re not like some other neighborhood. Our tax base is usually business. If we would like folks to stay right here, we have to reinvest.”

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Downtown Fort McMurray, Tuesday April 2, 2019. Photograph by David Bloom

Council supportive, however criticisms acknowledged

Councillor Allan Grandison agreed DRIP brings worth to downtown and shared a lot of Picard’s arguments. He additionally felt Wells had legitimate criticisms. He didn’t like that there aren’t comparable grants for struggling companies elsewhere in the neighborhood.

“We’re liable for all the taxpayers within the area, not simply those in downtown and that I battle with. I really do,” mentioned Grandison.

Councillor Kendrick Cardinal mentioned he agreed with Wells’ feedback and shared Grandison’s issues. He identified that council has been warned that revenues will tighten within the close to future.

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“When are we truly going to say no? All the pieces that involves this council is sure, sure, sure,” he mentioned.

Mayor Sandy Bowman and councillors Stu Wigle and Jane Stroud identified the funding has already been authorized and the movement is to increase this system. Wigle argued DRIP has helped cease companies from relocating exterior downtown. New companies have additionally proven an curiosity in transferring downtown, he mentioned, and this system exhibits the RMWB “is dedicated to downtown.”

“I do see the advance within the downtown and I believe our downtown has gotten type of a foul rap for fairly a while,” mentioned Bowman. “It has turn into extra viable for folks to maneuver into the downtown.”

Cardinal was the one councillor against the movement. Councillor Loretta Waquan was absent from the assembly.

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