At last weeks City Council Committee meeting, Community Services Committee brought forward it’s support for increased funding to the City’s various Community Improvement Programs.  The various programs have been used to assist with development/re-development of specific areas of our City and are covered under the Downtown CIP, Airport CIP and to a lesser amount, the Brownfield CIP.

According to the report to Council, the various programs have been successful in attracting, creating, or retaining over 300 jobs and leverage the amount invested at seven dollars for each dollar invested.  Long term tax revenues and assessment growth have seen and will see good returns as well, on the funds invested to these areas.  These programs as well, have assisted the City’s Economic Development Department in attracting new investment to our City.

It appears from the report that demand is high and numerous applications are pending, with present reserves not sufficient to fund.  The additional two hundred and fifty thousand dollars will allow for the continuation of these important programs.  The Chamber supports this recommendation and considers this an important investment in our community.  The recommendation will be brought forward to Council next week for approval and the business community will await the outcome.

As a result of the recommendation and the ensuing discussion at the Committee table, revitalization of the West Ferris/Lakeshore Drive area was brought to the forefront.  The Lakeshore Drive corridor has taken its share of hits over the past number of years and any relief or incentives that might help attract new investment and assessment growth, are needed.  From initial comments at the Committee meeting there appears to be a collective willingness to look at the various options.

While the possibility of an area specific CIP for the West Ferris/Lakeshore Drive area will assist, it is part of a larger discussion that should include other incentives that might attract new investment.  Whether it be waiver of demolition charges for improvements to properties or where and when development charges are required, should be discussed as part of the long-term strategy.  Attracting investment to revitalize the commercial areas in West Ferris, will require new strategies and tools for Council to utilize.  As stated earlier, it appears that Council will support initiatives that will help.

The Board of Directors, Members and staff of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce extend our sincerest condolences to all the families affected by the tragic events that happened in Toronto last week.

Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.