Wellesley is expanding its community improvement grant program to a third community in the township.
Wellesley councillors recently gave the go ahead for the township’s financial incentives program to be rolled out in the Linwood core this year, while adding another $20,000 in funding for the venture.
Linwood businesses operating in the village’s core area will now be eligible to apply for the two existing grant programs on offer by the township, as well as a new building and accessibility improvement grant, which offers to cover some of the costs of making accessibility upgrades to properties in response to shifting provincial regulations.
“The [grant] is intended to support improvements to private property which increase their physical accessibility and bring them into compliance with the building code and Ontario’s accessibility laws,” explained township director of planning Geoff VanderBaaren in a report to council.
“As of January 1, 2025, all businesses in Ontario are required to make all new and redeveloped areas fully accessible under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Given the level of interest in other incentive programs offered by the township, and the new accessibility requirements of the province, staff are of the opinion that this incentive program will be valuable to the township’s residents and business owners.”
The grants were initially restricted to the Wellesley village and St. Clements cores, and are steadily being rolled out to the other communities in the township, with Linwood being the most recent addition.
“Every year council will consider what programs to add or remove, this will depend on the uptake as well as the amount of the funding that is available,” explained VanderBaaren in an email to the Observer. The intention is to eventually expand the program to cover Crosshill, Hawkesville, Heidelberg and Wallenstein as more interest, and more funding, appears.
Also on offer through the community improvement program is the façade, signage and landscape improvement grant.
“The intent of the grant is to promote aesthetic and functional improvements to buildings and properties which otherwise may not occur due to the improvements’ associated costs,” noted VanderBaaren in his report.
Two businesses made use of the façade grant last year, with each receiving a 50 per cent rebate on voluntary improvements to their establishments. The Futher-Franklin Funeral Home in Wellesley village was approved for the installation of a new sign for the business, with the township agreeing to cover half the cost (up to a maximum of $3,200).
The Wellesley Veterinary Clinic similarly earned a 50 per cent grant from the township (up to $5,000) for a new sign for the business.
The third planning application and building permit fee rebate has yet to receive any applicants, but remains on offer for the three areas covered by the community improvement grants.
“The intent of the [grant] is to offset township planning and building fees for local property owners. While no applications were received for this grant in 2018, staff are of the opinion that the program offers valuable financial assistance for township residents and should continue,” said VanderBaaren.