Municipalities all across B.C. are receiving pandemic recovery grant money.

The City of Castlegar reported $2.18 million from the Province while the Town of Creston announced it was receiving $1.6 million.

B.C.’s COVID-19 Safe Restart Grants for Local Governments may be used for:

  • addressing revenues shortfalls;
  • facility reopening and operating costs;
  • emergency planning and response costs;
  • bylaw enforcement and protective services like fire protection and police;
  • computer and other electronic technology costs (to improve interconnectivity and virtual communications);
  • services for vulnerable persons (e.g. persons living with disabilities, mental illness or addictions,
  • persons experiencing homelessness or other vulnerabilities); and
  • other related costs.

The Town of Creston’s Chief Administrative Officer Mike Moore said the Town has already spent $150,000 on Covid-19, an expense that the taxpayer will not have to shoulder.

Meanwhile, the City of Castlegar’s Mayor, Bruno Tassone said the West Kootenay Regional Airport, which is owned by the City, suffered significant revenue losses this year and this funding will help the City maintain a strong financial position.

A total of $425 million is being dispersed by the provincial government, and according to Moore, municipalities must adhere to spending guidelines.

“Local government is required to report on how the money is spent within their audited financial statements,” said Moore. 

He added that there is a possibility that not every penny will be spent by the time the pandemic is over, and future ‘recovery’ spending plans would have to be at least presented to the province.

For now, the money is here to help with present-day problems.

“I don’t think anybody’s able to say with any degree of certainty how long this pandemic will last and what the future operating costs related to the pandemic will be,” said Moore. “If we’re fortunate and there’s a vaccine in the near future and a year from now, life is returning back to normal, that will be a wonderful story. But if in five years time we’re still faced with $100,000 to $200,000 a year costs, I’ll be sure thankful that we received this money and were able to stretch that out to stave off any taxation increase to cover those expenses.”