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Cobourg looks at financing downtown vitalization

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today


Downtown vitalization won't happen without funding, business development officer Kevin Narraway warned Cobourg council last week.

This week, sitting in committee of the whole, councillors discussed where that funding might come from.

They do have loans for owners of heritage buildings of up to $15,000, plus tax breaks for refurbished properties, Mayor Gil Brocanier said. The Venture Corporation suggested as part of the Downtown Vitalization report to provide low-interest loans is something else entirely.

"Essentially, it's a banking function," Deputy Mayor Stan Frost said.

"The thinking is, without such an initiative, we will achieve very little beyond physical improvements."

It's a better concept than offering grants, Brocanier said.

"When you talk about grants, you are talking about taking taxpayers' money and giving it to somebody else."

The mayor recalled that Narraway had help up the Centre Venture Development Corporation of Winnipeg as an example to emulate, an initiative begun with money realized from the sale of city property. Through low-interest repayments, council had been told, the principal is still in place after more than a decade.

"We have several sources of revenue we might use — Holdco, Northam Industrial Park," the mayor said.

As for implementing the remainder of the lengthy report, Deputy Mayor Stan Frost said, "There are many, many recommendations in there. All we are saying is, intellectually it is correct. Let staff go in there and bring it back, chunk by chunk, in a priority order so we can get our minds around the whole ball of wax."

Following this discussion, council voted unanimously to accept the Cobourg Downtown Vitalization Action Plan in principle and direct staff to prepare an implementation report for 2014 budget deliberations.

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