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Plan For City Cash Aid to Businesses Can be Funded From a Reserve Surplus

Winnipeg City Councillor Kevin Klein serving Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood

A little more help may be on the way for shut-down Winnipeg businesses, if City Councillors can adopt, amend or support a new aid proposal released today. With a second wave of Covid-19 lockdowns underway, some small and medium-sized companies have closed or are on the verge of closing permanently. Since City Council rejected a previous attempt to assist them, Councillor Kevin Klein is making a second try, this time adjusting for concerns raised by the Mayor and Councillors who opposed the first proposal.

“I’m proposing a motion today and will seek a suspension of the rules at the next Council meeting to debate the motion that would provide a City of Winnipeg COVID Aid Grant of $750 to eligible small and medium businesses,” Klein said. “The proposal would apply the province’s criteria for its own Manitoba Bridge Grant to Winnipeg businesses to simplify approvals, and we would draw on the Destination Marketing Reserve Fund instead of general revenues,” he said.

Klein pointed out that the Destination Marketing Reserve is earmarked to help the City’s hospitality, entertainment and event promotion sectors. Based on current estimates of Winnipeg businesses eligible for the Manitoba Bridge Fund, the total cost of the proposal to the fund – which currently has a balance of $8.8 million - would be $2 million.

“These businesses play a crucial role in making Winnipeg a destination city – so, supporting them also protects our tax base. Drawing the money from this fund is consistent with the Reserve’s mandate – but it’s important to know that we couldn’t normally use this funding to balance the City budget.”

Klein acknowledged that "motions I introduced previously were based on tax adjustments that may not have delivered aid to the right people, and may have caused other problems for the City’s budget. I believe this alternative motion can address those concerns.” He hopes councillors can work together on this or some similar proposal in time for approval at the November City Council meeting.

“Time is of the essence here,” he said, “and even a small level of support may make the difference between rent and no rent for some independent businesses,” he said. “Recently, the Kings Head Pub owner told media he sold his home to keep his business running. Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce President Lorne Remillard told CBC some companies have said to him, 'We are unlikely to come out of this. We are probably keeping our doors closed for good,' and I expect we will see more coming forward."

With over a week until the next City Council meeting, Klein is reaching out to all his colleagues and the Mayor inviting their input for a Winnipeg Made Motion.


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