There is still $54,400 available in the City of Duncan’s COVID-19 grant program.
That’s more than half of the $100,000 that was earmarked by council for the program last year.
The grant program, which began in May, 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, is intended to encourage creative thinking by local organizations to develop programs and concepts that will support Duncan businesses and residents affected by the pandemic, with a $10,000 cap for each application.
The funding for the program comes from $12,000 out of the city’s tax revenues and $88,000 out of surplus funds.
So far, there have been 12 applications for funding, but just four have been approved by council to date.
The eight applications that were denied were largely considered by council to not fit the criteria of the program, or didn’t directly benefit the people or businesses in the city.
The programs, activities and/or events that the applicants propose must support city businesses or residents that have been impacted by COVID-19, or establish recovery programs, and the applicants must demonstrate that the organization has exhausted other potential opportunities for funding from local, provincial, and federal sources.
To be successful, the organizations that apply must have an office in the Cowichan Valley and preference will be given to those with matching funds and those that will strengthen and build resilience in the local economy; partner with other service providers in the community; and request seed money to launch a program, activity, or event.
Asked if the criteria for the grant program is too restrictive, Mayor Michelle Staples said she hasn’t heard any complaints from the community stating that.
She said the applications that were successful have been exceptional, like the Downtown Duncan BIA’s food court that was established in Station Street Park in downtown Duncan.
“The food court project not only provided extra seating for businesses, but also added to a new vibrancy downtown,” Staples said.
In fact, the DDBIA was the recipient of three of the four successful COVID-19 grants that were applied for.
The association received a $10,000 grant from the city in the summer of 2020 to help establish the food court, which was intended to increase the customer capacity of downtown restaurants while respecting the public health orders on reduced numbers of people for dine-in eating.
The DDBIA’s second successful application was also a $10,000 grant in 2020, and this one was for its “Buy Local” campaign that the association championed along with the BIAs of Lake Cowichan and Chemainus, Economic Development Cowichan, Tourism Cowichan, Community Futures, the Duncan/Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, and the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce.
The association’s third successful $10,000 grant application was for the concrete tables that were placed in Station Street Park this summer as part of the ongoing food court project.
The fourth successful application for funding from the program was the Cowichan Green Community Society, which received $10,000 to assist with its plan for neighbourhood revitalization projects in Duncan.
The only other amount allocated out of the COVID-19 grant program was not actually an application, but was when council decided to allocate $5,600 out of the funds to contribute towards the fence at the end of Whistler Street that was placed there mainly for security reasons.