Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, joined Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre and Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines to announce federal funding for projects in the Niagara Region as part of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative. Also in attendance were Sarah Kaufman, Managing Director and Curator of the Niagara Historical Society/Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum; Rita Di Marcantonio, Manager of Branch Services at St. Catharines Public Library; Marianne Matthews, President of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch #230); Elisabeth Graham, Executive Director of Heartland Forest Nature Experience; BJ Judy Armstrong, President of The Gallery of Players Niagara; and, Bryan Rose, Executive Director of the Niagara Community Foundation. Projects announced today are among the more than 250 that are receiving funding following the first round of applications.
Safe and Vibrant Public Spaces
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum is receiving $10,000 in federal funding to transform its courtyard into a welcoming, accessible and vibrant outdoor space for visitors and staff to enjoy, while allowing for physical distancing. Federal funding will allow the Museum to become a public Wi-Fi hotspot, to add more seating, to install a tent that offers shelter from the elements, and to make additional safety improvements so that the courtyard can become a venue for COVID-friendly programming.
The St. Catharines Public Library is receiving more than $28,000 in federal funding to launch a mobile library branch. The mobile branch enables the library to continue lending popular materials for all ages, including laptops, tablets and STEM resources. The mobile branch also serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot and seeks to reduce feelings of social isolation through the facilitation of outdoor programming that can be carried out while maintaining physical distancing.
The Royal Canadian Legion (Branch #230) is receiving $13,000 in federal funding to adapt its community spaces to support safe and distanced leisure and recreational activities for community members including veterans, seniors and people living with a disability. This includes the purchase of seated exercise equipment, refurbishing a horseshoe pit, setting up new picnic tables to better mark and manage space and installing a roof over the outdoor stage where weekly outdoor movie nights take place.
Heartland Forest Nature Experience is receiving more than $24,000 in federal funding to promote the participation and inclusion of seniors and persons with disabilities in outdoor nature activities. Funds will help provide community members with the tools they need to feel confident either taking part in guided trail walks or exploring nature independently with the support of Wi-Fi hot spots, interactive trail maps with braille and mobile apps.
The Gallery of Players of Niagara is receiving more than $11,000 in federal funding to put on a series of virtual concerts and digital programming to be made available publicly, including to residents of local homes for senior at no cost. This project seeks to deliver music to those who have mobility issues or may have felt especially isolated during the pandemic. It also supports the arts and artists whose ability to work and perform has been greatly limited due to COVID-19.
The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative is a $31-million investment to build safer spaces and ensure a higher quality of life for people across the country, by helping communities adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.
A second call for applications for funding under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative is open until close on June 25, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. PST. Applicants can apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for eligible projects.
“Communities across the country have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of COVID-19 and Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum, St. Catharines Public Library, Royal Canadian Legion Branch #230, Heartland Forest Nature Experience and The Gallery of Players Niagara are stepping up to bridge the gaps. Federal funding through the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help organizations across the Niagara Region meet increased demand for accessible places where people can gather outdoors safely and will help create greater access to the internet, a vital resource in this ever increasing digital world. The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative supports projects throughout Canada that build more inclusive communities and ensure a higher quality of life for Canadians now and in the future.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
“The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly challenged not only communities within Niagara Centre, but communities all across Canada. Now more than ever it is vital we support the community organizations that help make our neighbourhoods successful and resilient. The funding provided by the Healthy Communities Initiative for a variety of local projects will have significant positive impacts on the strength of our communities and the lives of its residents. “
Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations are able to deliver programming. In Niagara, community groups and organizations have done an incredible job bringing innovation to their programming so that they can continue to serve our communities. It is important that the Government of Canada support these efforts and through the Healthy Communities Initiative, we will provide support and resources to local organizations so that they can continue to deliver excellent programming safely.”
Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines
“Thanks to the Government of Canada’s Healthy Communities Initiative grant we have enhanced our courtyard space for the benefit of the Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) community. With the addition of a large tent, benches and free Wi-Fi, we are able to offer a peaceful retreat for many to safely visit with friends! This has allowed us to create new community services and adapt to the challenges we face due to COVID.”
Sarah Kaufman, Managing Director / Curator, Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum
“The St. Catharines Public Library is pleased to be a recipient of the Canadian Healthy Communities Initiative for the development of a Mobile Library Branch. The Mobile Branch physically extends the library into the community by housing popular materials for all ages to borrow, and makes digital resources available. Most importantly, the Mobile Library Branch provides equitable access to services and programs by community members who have been adversely impacted by Covid-19, and will permanently benefit all members of the St. Catharines Community.”
Rita Di Marcantonio, Branch Manager, St. Catharines Public Library
“The Gallery Players of Niagara is honoured to participate in the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative. With this funding, our organization will be able to provide an engaging series of professionally-recorded virtual concerts from the 2021-2022 season, free of charge, to nine Long Term Care and Retirement Homes throughout Niagara, sharing the joy of music with residents in their own familiar and safe environs. Each concert experience is enhanced with interviews and conversations with performers, discussions of the music, and illuminating commentary. This pilot program not only fulfills the Gallery Players’ mission to enrich the world through intimate and diverse presentations of chamber music, it will also provide the foundation to develop comprehensive, ongoing outreach into the community.”
B.J. Judy Armstrong, President, The Gallery of Players Niagara
“The Healthy Communities Initiative is supporting organizations in Ontario to bring people together in our communities both in-person and digitally, while respecting public health measures. These projects show us the creativity and resourcefulness of communities as they create temporary and longer-lasting solutions that enable people to connect and access public spaces safely.”
Andrea Dicks, President of Community Foundations of Canada
The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative was created to help communities adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and create safe ways for residents to access services and enjoy the outdoors. The Initiative is designed to fund eligible projects between $5,000 and $250,000 that fall under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions.
Community Foundations of Canada was selected through an open call for applications to implement this national project. Together with its partners, including the Canadian Urban Institute, it is working with pan-Canadian networks to manage the funding process and serve the distinct needs of communities across Canada, including equity-seeking groups interested in applying.
The first intake for projects was launched on February 9, 2021, and closed on March 9, 2021.
Under the first round of the Canada Healthy Community Initiative, Infrastructure Canada has funded 102 projects worth more than $4 million in Ontario.