Township council has set aside $150,000 to support some local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dubbed the Brock Emergency Response Benefit, the funds will be administered by South Lake Community Futures, with applications opening June 1.
Businesses meeting the criteria (see below) would be eligible for up to $5,000 in funding.
“Our business community is struggling right now – especially in our downtown cores,” said Mayor Debbie Bath-Hadden at Monday’s (May 25) meeting of township council.
Debate on the program got underway two weeks prior but was tabled pending clarification from South Lake Community Futures.
While the program was approved, support from council was not unanimous as Regional Councillor Ted Smith and Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer both voted in opposition.
Describing it as a “great gesture,” Coun. Smith noted that there are more than 500 businesses operating in the Township and the program would only provide funding to about 40.
“I’m not really sure if it’s worth it,” he said.
“Keeping 40 businesses open and afloat has a huge value to the entire community,” Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble replied later in the meeting.
Coun. Schummer initially aired a number of concerns in a lengthy email to his colleagues and municipal staff earlier this month.
While that letter was initially included on the agenda for the May 11 meeting, it has since been removed from the Township’s website due to a “legal matter,” according to Mayor Bath-Hadden.
The email noted that Coun. Schummer had “grave concerns” about handing a “large amount of taxpayer funds to a group of unelected individuals who do not answer to the taxpayers of Brock.”
He raised some similar concerns during the conversation at the council table.
“When we’re talking about $150,000 in taxpayer funds, we’re not talking about a small program,” Coun. Schummer said on May 11.
On Monday, Coun. Schummer noted that both the provincial and federal governments have offered support programs for business owners.
“Those are loan programs – distinctly different from what we’re talking about here,” replied Mayor Bath-Hadden.
Under the terms approved by council, businesses eligible for the funding must:
– be located in Brock;
– be a registered business (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation where the applicant is the major shareholder);
– demonstrate a 30 per cent loss of revenue;
– have a 2018 tax filing information complete; and,
– demonstrate the ability to maintain operations for six months, prior to COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding is not open to corporately-owned franchises, distributorships, not-for-profit or charitable organizations, multi-level marketing ventures and businesses that are strictly conducted online.
The application and additional information on the program will be available HERE as of June 1.
The deadline to apply is June 14.