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Guelph city council approves $300K to support business recovery from pandemic

Ontario municipalities warn massive cuts will come without relief funding
After weeks of warning both the federal and provincial governments of potential service cuts, many Ontario mayors and regional chairs now say the time for action is up. But despite dire warning, Queen’s Park appears to be waiting for the federal government to make the first move. Matthew Bingley reports.

In an effort to help the local economy recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Guelph city council is giving $300,000 to a pair of business organizations.

On Wednesday, council voted to transfer $125,000 to Innovation Guelph and $175,000 to the Business Centre of Guelph Wellington.

Read more: Guelph’s downtown dining district to stick around for the summer

Both organizations have been providing support and assistance to local small businesses for several years.

The funding is coming out of a reserve and is meant to help local businesses recover from COVID-19.

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“The move recognizes the important role businesses play in Guelph’s broader economic recovery efforts,” the city said in a statement.

The city will also go back to charging interest and imposing penalties for property taxes, rates and user fees as of Aug. 1.

It had waived interest and penalties during the pandemic to provide some financial relief for residents and businesses.

Read more: Ontario extends emergency orders until July 29

But the city said now that it moves towards recovery, revenue collection will help address the city’s mounting costs.

The city continues to project an operating deficit of $4 million to $8 million.

That does not include impacts associated with the second and third stage of the provincial reopening plan or COVID-19 impacts beyond June 30.

Council is also calling on the federal and provincial governments to provide emergency funding to address elevated costs the city has dealt with due to the pandemic.

Canadian small business suffers huge loss in pandemic
Canadian small business suffers huge loss in pandemic

Mayor Cam Guthrie, who also chairs the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), has previously said municipalities have faced hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs and lost revenues due to pandemic.

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Read more: ‘Time is up’: Ontario mayors warn of tax increases, layoffs without coronavirus relief funding

Ontario communities say they will need at least $4 billion to help them recover.

Without any assistance, Guelph and many other municipalities would be forced to raise taxes and cuts services in next year’s budget.