Province buoys Niagara municipalities with $16.4 million fund

The Ontario government is providing over $16.4 million in new provincial funding to help municipalities in Niagara with ongoing COVID-19-related operating costs.

The funding includes $1.78-million for West Niagara communities.

In a news bulletin, the provincial government said the new financial relief will help ensure the delivery of critical services during the pandemic and keep capital projects on track.

“This additional provincial investment provides stable and secure support for upper and lower-tier municipalities in Niagara,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

He explained that local municipalities have experienced serious financial challenges because of COVID-19 and the Ford government see the need to support the delivery of critical local services and ongoing projects across Niagara and the province.

Mike Kirkopoulos, CAO at the town of Lincoln, said in an emailed message to Mayor Sandra Easton and Lincoln town councillors: The provincial funding “was not part of or included in our 2021 budget projections or forecast – so it can help mitigate some of the COVID impacts we may face this year (both in our forecast and things not captured in our forecast). This could be lost revenue again, or staffing and material expenditures.”

He added: “As Council will remember, the 2021 budget included some COVID-related expenses and a modest reduction in revenues trying our best to anticipate when programs and lock-downs would end.  The added funding will help the Town mitigate any increased expenditures or revenue decreases not captured in our 2021 budget.”

2021 Provincial COVID-19 recovery funding amounts for municipalities in Niagara include:

Town of Fort Erie$774,113
Town of Grimsby$553,771
Town of Lincoln$458,968
City of Niagara Falls$1,887,048
Regional Municipality of Niagara$6,594,635
Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake$427,007
Town of Pelham$347,890
City of Port Colborne$505,536
City of St. Catharines$2,941,748
City of Thorold$421,958
Township of Wainfleet$158,381
City of Welland$1,147,788
Township of West Lincoln$267,744

“On behalf of the entire Niagara region, I am pleased to see the announcement of additional financial support coming from our partners at the provincial government,” said Jim Bradley, Chair of the Regional Municipality of Niagara, adding, “COVID-19 has easily been the most disruptive event to impact municipal operations in the last half century and without the ongoing support of the province we would be in dire straits”

The announcement is 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 is being prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic and can be used for things like personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and by-law enforcement.