The RDKB is one of 27 regional districts getting another slice of COVID-19 restart funds. Photo: Jim Bailey

Kootenay Boundary regional district receives $489,000 COVID restart boost

Minister Josie Osborne said the bump is designed to build on last fall's safe restart grants to local governments

Communities across B.C. will get an additional $10 million in COVID safe restart grants, the provincial government announced Monday.

The extra money, to be split among the province’s 27 regional districts, will supplement last November’s $540 million in provincial and federal restart grants to local governments.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) will get $489,000 to support local services and operations, though the board is still reviewing how those funds will be allocated.

By the end of this calendar year the allocation plan will be completed, confirmed RDKB spokesperson Frances Maika.

“One project that we know will go ahead is expanding the hours of the Grand Forks and District Aquatic Centre,” Maika said. “Other projects have not yet been finalized but are likely to include some monies toward improving the RDKB’s capacity for remote work through various upgrades to IT infrastructure, and other projects still in the planning phase.”

The funding bump comes roughly a month after Minister Josie Osborne heard feedback from regional directors and heads of local governments who stated they are struggling with economic recovery post-COVID.

“Literally, the cheque is in the mail and the funds are on their way,” Osborne told The Grand Forks Gazette Monday.

The $10 million will be divided between regional districts according to a population-based formula which Osborne said afforded special attention to rural communities.

The funds are being made available through equal contributions by Ottawa and Victoria.

Local governments are meanwhile eligible for $100 million in provincial grants toward strengthening community services for vulnerable populations, especially those experiencing homelessness. The grant program is being run by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which Osborne said is accepting grant applications until April 16.

Program funds can be used to bolster a wide variety of services, including the expansion of homeless shelters and other protective outreach programs.

Osborne said she had seen RDKB director Grace McGregor’s open letter to the B.C. government … asking to see a breakdown of the formula the province first used to divvy up COVID restart grants.

-With files from The Grand Forks Gazette

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