The City of Duncan is extending three grant programs intended to assist the city’s businesses, residents, and property owners maintain and improve their properties. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The City of Duncan is extending three grant programs intended to assist the city’s businesses, residents, and property owners maintain and improve their properties. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan extends grant programs to assist with improving properties

Programs impacted by COVID-19 pandemic in 2021

Three grant programs that were introduced last year to assist the City of Duncan’s businesses, residents, and property owners maintain and improve their properties have been extended into 2022.

At a recent meeting, Duncan council decided to approve an additional $10,000 from reserve funds to be used to continue the city’s Enhanced Security Initiative Program, which is intended to encourage commercial property owners to implement measures that will improve public safety, enhance protection and security of their buildings and surrounding properties.

The ESIP is a matching grant opportunity for commercial property owners to apply for any new safety or security project that they choose with a 50 per cent reimbursement, up to a maximum of $1,000.

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Rachel Hastings, Duncan’s manager of building and bylaw services, said in a report that there were a total of 15 applications received for funding from the ESIP by the Dec. 31, 2021 deadline, of which 10 were eligible for funding.

She said three of those eligible applications have not been approved as there is just $2,335 left in funding from the $10,000 that the was allocated to the program last year.

“Of the eligible security enhancements that were funded, the two main types included security camera additions and upgrades, and security doors and enclosures for alcoves and small outdoor spaces,” she said.

Council also decided to extend into 2022 the city’s Graffiti Removal Program, which is intended to assist Duncan property owners, both residential and commercial, whose property has been tagged with graffiti.

Property owners are encouraged to pick up a voucher at City Hall for one free can of paint and a brush (or other products to assist at removing graffiti of up to $60 value), along with instructions for redeeming the voucher at participating Duncan paint stores.

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Statistics show that repeat tagging percentage is close to zero if tags are covered within 24 to 48 hours of appearance.

There were two vouchers issued since the GRF started last year, totalling $120 spent of the $2,000 allocated.

“This leaves a total of $1,880 remaining to facilitate the continuation of this program,” Hastings said.

“Given the current pandemic restrictions, staff feel there is potential for more interest in this program as current guidelines from the Public Health Office start to ease, and the community starts to reopen.”

Council decided to extend the program into 2022 with no additional funds.

Council also agreed to continue the City-Wide Façade Improvement Program this year, which is intended to promote business revitalization by encouraging building owners to invest in storefront upgrades.

The objective is to make significant improvements to the appearance of the city’s streetscapes while creating an enjoyable walking environment.

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Council approved $10,000 in 2021 for the program, to provide a grant up to 50 per cent of the cost of eligible improvements to a maximum of $1,000 per application.

This program was designed to be available to buildings outside of the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area, which has a similar program for their membership.

But Hastings said that, to date, there have been no applications received for funding under the program.

“Although there have been no applications received, there is also an understanding that the business community is already under financial duress with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and that as the guidelines start to ease, it would be of benefit to the businesses to have a grant opportunity to assist with the desired improvements,” she said.

“While there is no additional budget request for the City-Wide Façade Improvement Program, staff are requesting to allow the program to continue to be offered for one additional year.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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