The City of North Bay is rolling out an $800,000 program to encourage expansion and sustainable growth for the city.
The North Bay Growth Community Improvement Plan (GCIP) was approved in the 2019 budget as part of the Economic Development Strategic Plan. Due to the pandemic, it has not been able to be released until now.
Mayor Al McDonald says that the program aims to encourage businesses to invest in themselves.
“It’s really to support the growth in our city, support local businesses and have them invest in their properties and we’d be a partner,” McDonald said, adding that the pandemic delayed the rolling out of the project.
The GCIP identifies four target areas: downtown, the waterfront, housing and industry. Depending on the targeted area, applicants are eligible to receive rebates and grants to help offset the costs of investing in the area.
In the downtown, McDonald says there could be issues.
“I think if you look right across the country and across the world, all countries are struggling with mental health and addictions and homelessness. It’s how you react to those challenges that define you. We did a mayor’s roundtable back in September and came up with recommendations, we created a low-barrier shelter, we’ve created a transitional housing model that will be open probably around January. We’re doing what we can. There’s no question there is homelessness not just in North Bay but in just about every other urban city. We’re doing our best to address that with our community partners. We all have to recognize that it’s a very complex challenge that we face,” McDonald explained.
“Because even if you do provide housing similar to what we did with the low-barrier shelter, those that choose not to use even the low-barrier shelter, will choose tents or sleeping on the streets. From a human rights perspective, we have to accept that.” he said.
In all four target areas, the GCIP is offering rebates on municipal fees, taxes and development charges.
The downtown area has the most incentives available through the GCIP, with incentives for businesses to renovate, build sidewalk patios, and present public art.
The waterfront target area is being offered rebates to retool parking services in addition to the same art grant.
The housing target area will be offering incentives for private sector investments to create more housing and renting opportunities.
The industry target area aims to waive municipal fees and provide tax incentives for companies to create more jobs in North Bay.
McDonald says that the program is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications will be reviewed by city staff to see who gets how much money.
The Mayor is hoping that the $800,00 runs out soon though.
“It would be great if it was depleted right away because that means that businesses are putting up that kind of money into their businesses and their buildings which is good for the city,” he said. “City council can always tap into the Economic Development Fund.”
All the information on the GCIP can be found at https://www.cityofnorthbay.