The City of Armstrong will receive $1.6 million in provincial and federal support from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant. (Google Maps)

The City of Armstrong will receive $1.6 million in provincial and federal support from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant. (Google Maps)

Armstrong council to consider spending options for COVID relief funds

The city will receive $1.6 million from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant

The City of Armstrong has a preliminary plan for how it will use its share of pandemic relief funding from the provincial and federal governments.

Armstrong will receive $1.6 million from the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant. More than $13 million was announced for local governments in the North Okanagan earlier this month.

The city hasn’t yet received the funds, but in a memo to council ahead of Monday’s regular meeting dated Nov. 18, Chief Financial Officer Janene Felker presented a list of possible options on how it could be spent.

That includes just shy of $100,000 to cover parks and recreation revenue shortfalls in 2020 and another $32,400 in 2021.

Provisions for COVID-19-related rebates for property taxes and utility fees was also suggested, totalling just under $100,000 and $115,000 respectively.

For facility reopening and operational costs, the memo suggests putting $2-3,000 towards cleaner, masks, plexiglass and other supplies, as well as $1,500 to $2,000

READ MORE: North Okanagan gets more than $13 million in COVID-19 relief

To improve virtual communications, the memo budgets $40-50,000 for a new website; $10-12,000 to digitize microfiche slides; $7,500 for a computer program to process building permits; and $12,500 for laptops for management staff, and $2,000 for webcams and headsets for all staff. Other items without a cost estimate include services for people with disabilities, mental illness or addictions.

If council agrees with the spending ideas, the projects and costs will be included in an upcoming budget presentation.

“Alternatively, council could set aside a portion of the grant to assist with funding the New City Hall project to help spur economic activity within the city, in the immediate term,” Felker’s memo reads.

Council has been discussing conceptual plans for a new city hall to be built on city-owned Bridge Street property at an estimated cost of $4 million. The two-storey building project could break ground as early as 2021.

Council will review the spending suggestions from city staff at its meeting Nov. 23, at which point it will be forwarded to the Strategic Planning Session scheduled for Nov. 30.

READ MORE: Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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