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Downtown property owners can cash in on grants

More than $100,000 still available for latest round of grants
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2018-08-24 downtown Orillia
Owners of downtown Orillia properties might be eligible for grants under the Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

A program to help downtown property owners spruce up their buildings is doing what the city expected it would, but there’s still cash to go around.

The Downtown Tomorrow Community Improvement Plan (CIP) makes money available to those who are looking to undertake facade improvements, and it also covers signage, feasibility studies, building improvements and the creation of residential units.

Successful applicants receive up to 50 per cent of the cost of the projects.

The city rolled out the CIP in 2017, setting aside $185,000. Of that, $111,000 was granted to nine property owners.

This year, the city has made $200,000 available. So far, seven property owners have cashed in on $91,000.

While the city would like to see more people take advantage of the program, it is not surprised there is still some cash to spare. The consultant who worked on the CIP said this was to be expected in the first two years.

“The program is doing what we expected it to and more,” said Laura Thompson, the city’s manager of real estate and commercial development. “We know businesses are looking at us because we have incentive programs. Even if they don’t qualify for this program, they see that council is (making the city) open for business.”

The first two intakes for this year’s CIP were in January and April. The next will be in October. Thompson said the city will hold a workshop in September for those who are interested in learning more about the CIP and how to apply. A date and location for that workshop are yet to be determined.

With more than $100,000 still available for this year’s program, Thompson is hoping there will be plenty of interest among property owners. She has spoken with a number of them and has learned why some are hesitant to take part.

“They’ve been so busy that they don’t have time to fill out the application or do the renovations,” she said.

They also need to provide the city with quotes from a contractor who has Workplace Safety and Insurance Board certification, and that takes time.

To learn more about the Downtown Tomorrow CIP, call 705-325-4900, email edc@orillia.ca or click here.




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