London, Ont., councillors approve $1.3 million in funding to support COVID-19 community recovery – London

London councillors have approved over $1.3 million in funding for the London Community Recovery Network (LCRN) as the city works to rebuild after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Tuesday night’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee meeting, councillors unanimously approved all five business cases proposed by the LCRN.

The LCRN was first formed in July 2020 by city council as a way to involve the community in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together leaders in the private section, non-profit, and institutional organizations.

“It’s nice to see that the community and groups in the community are adding their ideas to things that can help the entire city, things that are scaleable, things that benefit the city regardless of COVID,” said Phil Squire, councillor for Ward 6.

“If there is any benefit that comes out of COVID, it’s the ability to identify gaps that existed in the city that (have) just been exacerbated by the arrival of COVID.”

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The two most expensive cases approved are the City Wide Support Local Promotional Campaign, costing $760,000, and the Circular Economy Work and Training Platform, costing $239,000.

The three other business cases include $9,800 for The Good Foods Project, the investment of $180,000 in Ventures with Innovative Solutions project, and the Pandemic Recovery Resources and Training to Enhance Employment for Londoners case, costing $135,000.

“They are really focused on jobs, helping businesses get their doors reopened, getting customers back into them, and providing an opportunity for some innovative solutions on some of the problems COVID has highlighted,” said Shawn Lewis, councillor for Ward 2.

The Support Local campaign is a coordination with all of the local business improvement associations in partnership with Tourism London, which is intended to drive recovery by encouraging local tourism and economic growth.

The $760,000 intended for the Support Local campaign will help promote businesses throughout the city, as well as finding ways to keep money earned in London spent locally.

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The second case, valued at $239,000, is to support Goodwill Industries, working in partnership with Fanshawe College, to scale a Circular Economy Work and Training Platform to grow a social enterprise, create living wage skilled jobs, and training opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

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“These are good examples of community partners doing what they do best and city hall not having to lead every aspect of recovery initiatives, and that is what was envisioned through the LRCN, not just initiatives the city is going to take on but community-generated projects,” said Josh Morgan, deputy mayor and councillor for Ward 7.

Other projects include a London-based food delivery project to support independently-owned restaurants, a challenge for local creatives to solve technology and social gaps created during the lockdowns, and funding to training and assistance to help people looking for work following the pandemic.

“What I am liking is that it is very much a local response, and by that I mean not just focusing here on London, but focusing on working together because a lot of the business cases involve a lot of collaboration,” said Maureen Cassidy, councillor for Ward 5.

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