Belleville is putting more money into the program to improve the facades of the downtown city centre.
A staff report to city council indicated the Facade Improvement Program could run into a deficit of $45,000 if the present remaining four applications were approved.
The Facade committee reported there were nine applications in 2016, 12 in 2017 and already eight this year. The report indicated the program “is a positive way to leverage private sector investment in rejuvenating the appearance of the downtown buildings”.
The facade committee recommended taking some money from the casino funds for economic development.
A number of councillors expressed concern that money was designated – and in fact didn’t become available until July.
Councillor Egerton Boyce told Quinte News “we knew when we invested millions in the downtown, businesses would come forward.” He said many are spending another $50,000 on the projects.
Councillor Jack Miller said, “This can’t be a precedent. There are two questions to be answered: How funds in economic development in the casino funding are used and how the Facade Improvement Program is going to be funded.”
Councillor Paul Carr said it is important to to be “fiscally prudent”. He questioned whether the program was “achieving true economic development or just battling urban decay”. He said the “principle is dangerous of drawing down the reserve account.”
The city provides 75% of the project up to $20,000 and the business must put up the other 25%. The project must be completed within two years.
In the end, council approved the $135,000 requested, but called for a staff report on what casino economic development funds can be used for.