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Waterloo Region releases details of next year’s budget

The Region of Waterloo's administration building in Kitchener. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Waterloo Region released an outline of its proposed budget for 2021 on Wednesday.

“Our proposed 2021 Budget Plan: Beyond COVID-19 takes a deliberate, planned and intentional approach to help us build for the future,” the region’s new CAO Bruce Lauckner said in a statement.

Read more: Crime drops, police calls up in Waterloo Region over first 6 months of COVID-19 pandemic

“The plan is intended to embrace all community members while reflecting the acute challenges presented by the pandemic.”

The budget will be significantly shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic as it estimates transit ridership will be 55 per cent of what it was prior to March. This will shave around $20 million from revenues for the region

In all, the region estimates that there will be $41 million in COVID-19-related costs and revenue losses.

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It still has $33 million from the safe start funding it received from the federal and provincial governments but says there will be strings attached to any further funds it receives.

A good portion of that money will partially be allocated towards transit, emergency shelters, long-term care and public health.

In addition, over the next two years, the region is allocating $20 million towards new affordable housing, $15 million for BIPOC measures and $3 million for COVID-19 recovery business supports.

Read more: Ontario places Waterloo Region in red control COVID-19 level

The region is also still making decisions on some of the recommendations KPMG made in its report for the region on cost savings, including closing down daycares, adjusting museum services and specialized transit.

The budget also invests in a number of projects, including airport expansion, road extensions and road work, municipal building renewal and public transit projects like the King Street Hub and Northfield Drive Facility.

The full budget proposal will be released sometime next month and will not be approved until January.

The region will hold a meeting in December to discuss the daycare situation and is also asking for public comment on the EngageWR web site.

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