Quesnel city council is using COVID-19 grant money to support seniors in the community.
Council approved giving $100,000 to the North Cariboo Seniors Council (NCSC) as part of a COVID Restart Grant.
Councillor Scott Elliott communicated recommendations from a financial sustainability and audit committee meeting during city council on Jan. 19.
“We are assigning ‘up to’ for these areas, because we need to deploy the $2.5 million we got from the province in a timely matter,” Mayor Bob Simpson said. “This is not local taxpayer funds. If we didn’t get the COVID-19 grant, we’d be looking at part of our operating budget or capital budget.”
The grant replaces casino revenue which has dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quesnel city staff will work with the NCSC to set out the city’s expectations and priorities for how the money should be used.
City council also approved allocating $40,000 to the council chambers project, $15,000 to improve cell coverage at the new public works building and $39,000 to the Food Hub project through the grant.
The city is able to assign COVID-19 provincial money for certain areas, including technology upgrades.
Cell service inside the public works building is hindering the ability of workers, especially with more people working and communicating remotely.
“With the structure of the building, being the thickness of the steel, there was cell service, but it was drastically reduced,” the city’s Director of Capital Works and Infrastructure, Chris Coben said.
“You cannot have a conversation in the building with the way it is now.”
The money for council chambers is in addition to $80,000 already allocated to the project.
“All we’re doing is covering off the council initiatives contribution to this project, so money remains in the council initiatives budget from last year,” Simpson said. “This is only moving money around.”
The Food Hub needed the additional money to cover costs for 2021, their first year of operations.
“These are pre-approved costs council has already approved in the start-up process,” Simpson said. “Going forward, the intention is this is going to be a self-sustaining entity.”
The city hopes the Food Hub will be open by March 1.
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