Five of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s municipal partners are asking for additional money from the town for 2023.
These five partners include the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, the Niagara District Airport, the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, the NOTL Public Library and Niagara College.
Each one of them came to council asking the town for a hike in municipal funding, but for a variety of reasons.
Niagara District Airport
Dan Pilon, CEO of the Niagara District Airport is asking for $64,726 from the town, up from $58,820 last year.
The airport receives municipal funds in the form of capital grants, which are used to help pay for the airport’s infrastructure, and operating grants, which pay for its daily needs, like fuel and staffing.
Between the two, the airport is seeking $26,310 for capital expenditures and $38,416 for operations.
The airport collects revenue from NOTL, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines every year.
All three are seeing an increase from the airport.
Pilon cited a few reasons, including operating costs, fuel, maintenance and equipment.
According to his presentation, the airport is also deferring several big ticket expenses, including runway replacements valued at $1.5 million.
Coun. Wendy Cheropita was concerned about the safety risk such deferred projects pose to the airport.
Pilon noted, “It’s a difficult environment to come to this table and ask for some significant capital contributions at the moment.”
“We try to ensure that we’re taking care of areas that would pose any immediate safety risk,” he added.
Sarah Kaufman, managing director of the NOTL Museum, is asking for a three per cent increase in funding over last year, bringing the cost to the town to about $281,000.
The money will be used to support maintenance of the museum’s building as well as staffing, office supplies, community programming and marketing, Kauffman said.
“For 2023, we looked forward to continuing our exhibitions and programs,” she said.
The museum has 106 programs and exhibitions planned for the year.
Coun. Maria Mavridis asked if the additional money would be used to support the museum’s expansion.
However, Kaufman said the budgetary expenses presented were strictly for operations and would not be used for the planned expansion.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Minerva Ward, president of the NOTL Chamber of Commerce, is asking for $150,000 from the town to support the services it offers.
The chamber receives municipal funding to support and promote tourist events that benefit the town.
Among the major events it hosts and promotes are the annual Icewine Festival, Peach Festival and Candlelight Stroll.
Ward said the chamber received $117,000 from the town last year.
Coun. Erwin Wiens said the municipality is “struggling to make our ends meet at the operational level” and asked if the chamber’s business partners could help with funding.
“Sponsors were very, very hard to come by last year,” Ward said.
“Businesses are in recovery mode” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and only a small percentage of its revenue comes from business partners, Ward said.
Her vision to make NOTL a “year-round tourism destination” and wants visitors to extend their stays.
“We want to convert a lot of those day trippers into multi-day visitors,” Ward told councillors.
NOTL Public Library
Library CEO Cathy Simpson and board chair Daryl Novak have asked the town for almost $840,000 to help support the library this year.
This represents a 6.67 per cent increase from last year when the town spent more than $786,000 on the library.
Simpson said the library hopes to realign its opening hours for consistency and also needs money to cover extra hours for part-time staff.
But the biggest reason for the increase is insurance, which has risen nearly 16 per cent this year, according to her presentation.
While municipal funding is not the library’s only source of revenue, the town is the biggest source, covering 91 per cent of the library’s budget.
Council approved a memorandum of understanding with the library. It outlines some of the services the library offers in exchange for municipal funding and helps to improve communication between the town and library. .
This is the first time the town has had such a contract with the library, said Coun. Sandra O’Connor.
The vice-president of research and innovation for Niagara College asked for a small grant of $20,000 from the college for this year’s budget.
Marc Nantel said the town has invested $360,000 with the college since 1995.
The $20,000 ask will be used to fund experiential learning opportunities for students, like a new greenhouse its expects to complete in 2024 and a new on-campus chef’s garden.
Niagara College was named one of Canada’s top research colleges for 2022 the morning after the council meeting.