Coventry TransportationCoventry Transportation
The Weather Network
Apr. 16, 2021 | Friday
Local News
NOTL to get $427,007 in additional COVID funding from province
File photo/Town Hall

Evan Saunders
Niagara Now/The Lake Report

Niagara-on-the-Lake is receiving $427,007 from the province to help cover COVID-related costs.

The provincial grant, part of more than $500 million the government announced it is doling out to municipalities, will arrive in two installments, one by May 1 and the second by Nov. 1.  

The province determined the amount  each municipality would receive based on  COVID case counts and measurable impact on town operations, Monday’s committee of the whole meeting was told. 

“The formula they used across the whole province was a fair formula,” Lord Mayor Betty Disero said in an interview on Tuesday.  

The mayor noted the money is intended for "our expenses from COVID,” but was reluctant to commit to spending it in specific areas. 

She wants to wait for a full report from the town’s emergency control group on where the money is most needed “before the council starts spending any of it.” 

 “There will be an obligation from the town to provide some assistance to the department of health, with respect to the vaccine rollout," she said. "I suspect, although I don’t know for sure, that some of the money will go towards that. But I don’t want to do any pie-in-the-sky wishes until we know for sure.” 

While $400,000 is a helpful cash injection for the town, Disero noted she didn’t want the money from the province to “preclude my desire to work with the minister of tourism to try and get some additional help for our tourism industry and our wine industry that has been badly hit by this pandemic.” 

During a committee of the whole meeting Monday, Coun. Erwin Wiens expressed concerns that the town is incurring extra costs to train officers to enforce provincial and regional laws governing COVID-1, and wondered if there will be any funding to specifically address that.  

“It’s costing our taxpayers a lot of money to enforce provincial laws,” he said, “Are we looking at getting any sort of remuneration from the province or the region to offset the costs?”

Chief administratior Marnie Cluckie said it's unclear if there will be money for that but said she would look into it.

The funding comes as the region is gearing up for increased vaccine distribution. The NOTL Community Centre on Anderson Lane has been designated as the vaccine distribution centre for NOTL, the committee was told. 

There are 11 other vaccination centres across Niagara, “strategically located so that no resident has to travel further than 15 minutes to receive a vaccine,” Cluckie told councillors.

With Niagara Region now considered a hot spot for COVID, there will be increased shipments of vaccines arriving, making it easier for municipalities to begin vaccinating their most at-risk residents. 

These include people over 80 and Indigenous adults, Cluckie said.

The region has already distributed more than 23,000 vaccinations, she said.

While the vaccination process is speeding up, Cluckie said public bookings of vaccinations won’t be available until at least March 15, when the province's booking system is supposed to be up and running. 

With warm weather arriving early in southern Ontario, NOTL can be expect to see  tourists start arriving to enjoy the sights and sunshine. 

“My message to all our citizens is to make sure you wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands,” Disero said.