The City of Swift Current will be using funds received through the federal Safe Restart program to help local non-profit organizations deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council members approved the use of funds from the Safe Restart program to support different City projects and community organizations during a regular council meeting, May 31.
General Manager of Community Services Jim Jones told the meeting the City received a total of $990,495 in funding from the federal government’s Safe Restart initiative.
“This funding is intended to be used to continue to put in place appropriate precautionary measures to minimize the impact of COVID-19,” he said. “Municipalities have the flexibility to decide where the funding is needed most, including proactive projects and future expenses.”
His report recommended the use of $751,518 of the City’s Safe Restart funds for City projects and the support of non-profit organizations. The remaining $238,977 has not been allocated for any purpose.
“We do have that amount that’s left over,” he said. “That is council’s choice on what they have to do moving forward with the rest of those dollars.”
Mayor Al Bridal felt it was prudent for the City to still have some of the Safe Restart funds available to deal with any other needs.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with COVID-19 and that other $239,000 we may be using it somewhere else in our community,” he said. “There’s no doubt with this COVID-19, because every time you turn a corner it seems to turn too.”
The City will use some of the allocated funds to finance the completion of a community strategic plan, which will include a new vision, mission and values. In addition, an amount of around $300,000 will be used for the City’s active transportation expansion project, which has already started. It will add approximately 11 kilometres of pathway, sidewalk, boardwalk and bank rehabilitation to the Chinook Parkway.
Jones noted the City partners with many non-profit organizations that provide sport, culture and recreation opportunities to Swift Current residents.
“Annually these partners help showcase the fabric of our community by organizing events that continue to bring pride to the city by attracting people from around the southwest,” he said.
The pandemic has made it difficult for these organizations to schedule events and to raise funds. Organizations such as the Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association, the Swift Current 57’s, Windscape Kite Festival, and the Lyric Theatre had to cancel major events and activities.
The City will therefore use Safe Restart funds to provide financial support for non-profit organizations. This support will replace the Living Sky Community Development Corporation grant for 2021-22, which is unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“All these organizations rely on that money to run their programs, and this year with the casinos shut down right across the province the community grant money from Living Sky would not be there, and so we’ve taken this money to backfill those community grants,” Bridal explained during a media briefing after the council meeting.
He noted that around 70 community organizations applied for that grant last year, and around $120,000 was disbursed then by Living Sky.
“And hopefully with the safe restart that’s happening in the province, the casinos will start up shortly and by next year they will have the money to put back in the community grant program that they have,” he said.
Bridal emphasized it is very important for the City to offer this financial support to these non-profit community organizations.
“All these organizations are volunteer run and many of them have not been able to raise a dollar in the last almost two years, year and a half for sure, and we want them on the other side of the pandemic to have enough money to run their programs and to fund their programs,” he said.
Council approves landscape contract for active transportation project:
Council members approved the landscaping contract for the active transportation expansion project during the regular council meeting, May 31.
The contract was awarded to SMG Operating Ltd. of Saskatoon at a cost of $542,036.68 with a contingency fee and PST included, but GST excluded.
The landscaping contract is a portion of a major capital project to construct about 11 kilometres of new pathway and sidewalk in the community. The City has received federal and provincial funding for this nearly $6 million project, and the request for proposals (RFP) process therefore had very specific criteria.
“The project has a strict completion deadline and relatively large amount of work to be done,” City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken said. “Therefore, the RFP evaluation criteria focused on contractor’s ability to complete the work in a timely manner, work experience, and project cost.”
SMG Operating Ltd. has experience on similar large-scale projects with the City of Saskatoon and University of Saskatchewan. The landscaping work will include replacing topsoil and hydroseeding next to the newly constructed pathway, planting trees and shrubs at rest nodes and other project areas, and taking care of the establishment and maintenance of the seed and plants for the 2021 season.