Barrie is getting $3.5 million in provincial funding to help pay pandemic-related operating costs and to keep capital projects on track.
“This will go a long way to help our city with the significant financial pressures we have faced due to COVID,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “I would expect that this funding would help address some of the lost revenue with community centre closures and additional costs we have incurred for COVID-related expenses across all departments.”
Lehman also said this funding is something he’s been advocating for as part of his role as chairman of the Ontario Big City Mayors.
He also thanked the province for the significant funding announced earlier, specifically for the Transit Safe Restart Phase 3.
“Our allocation for April 1, 2021 (until) Dec. 31, 2021 is $2,487,486,” Lehman said. “This is welcomed news and will really help our transit system recover from the lost revenue and decline in ridership due to COVID.”
Part of the province’s $500-million investment to help ensure the stability of Ontario’s 444 municipalities as they plan for the year ahead, the funding announced Thursday is being prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic and can be used for things like personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and bylaw enforcement.
The County of Simcoe is receiving almost $3.9 million, Oro-Medonte Township will get $370,708 and Springwater Township has been granted $313,417.
Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey made the announcement Thursday.
“This funding is further evidence that our government is listening, and doing whatever we can to help municipalities keep costs low and services running,” he said. “Municipalities are our frontline partners in fighting against the pandemic, protecting our communities and providing essential services people rely upon each day.
“This funding will help alleviate some of the challenges that our local municipalities have faced due to the pandemic,” Downey added.
Steve Clark, Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs and housing, also made the front-line argument.
“Our municipalities have been clear that they need ongoing operating funding in 2021,” he said, “and it is important that we step up and provide that support so our municipal partners can continue to deliver the services Ontarians rely on each and every day.”
This money builds on the $1.39 billion in operating funding provided to municipal partners through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. Its second phase was allocated to all Ontario municipalities in December, to ensure that none entered 2021 facing an operating deficit from 2020.