New spending takes aim at recovery challenges

City council has updated the Core Area Action Plan and endorsed $1.3 million in business-related projects in an effort to address recovery challenges

NOT PROMISING A quick fix, city council moved to update its Core Area Action Plan in an effort to assist businesses in downtown commerce areas, and also endorsed $1.3-million in business-focused pandemic recovery projects on Tuesday.

Acknowledging that the pandemic has intensified the social and economic problems in the city’s core business districts, a staff report recommended several adjustments to the Core Area Action Plan that was first endorsed by city council in 2019, prior to the pandemic, including:

• Project Clean Slate, a $37,500 street cleaning/garbage collection program;

• Hiring a team of ‘ambassadors’ to provide customer service, information, and additional eyes on the street;

• ‘Activate’ Dundas Place with music and activities within pandemic rules;

• Reallocate $100,000 to fund small-scale events and activities;

• Enhanced communications to highlight positive events in the core.

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In addition, council also endorsed more than $1.3-million in pandemic recovery initiatives led by local organizations and aimed at creating jobs and assisting local businesses. The programs include:

• A city-wide promotional campaign led by Tourism London to encourage shopping local, including markets, events, contests and $10,000 in pre-paid Visa cards. Seeking $760,000 in funding.

• A textile recycling program to create new products from discarded cloth, hiring 90 people at a living wage. Goodwill is partnering with Fanshawe College and is seeking $249,000.

• TechAlliance plans a series of challenges for entrepreneurs to solve pandemic problems, and is looking for $180,000. The end product would be an app or other tool to fill a need in London.

• City hall is also being asked for $135,000 to train employment-sector workers to help Londoners navigate the job market better after the pandemic. That would include training workshops for hundreds of employment professionals.

• The Good Foods Project is seeking $9,800 to develop an online food delivery platform to provide local restaurants with a more affordable delivery option than services such as UberEats and SkipTheDishes.

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In order to help fund the recover work, council is looking to $10 million in reserves from 2019 and 2020 budget surpluses. About $1.9 million has  been earmarked, and city council is expected to rubber-stamp the decision on the additional $1.3 million next week. New spending takes aim at recovery challenges city council Government


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