Last night saw Geelong Councillors vote on the latest economic and community support package while also finalising its 2020/21 budget and community grants program, setting a 12 month course for the city’s recovery from the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The package includes $5.165 million in new or continued initiatives aimed at accelerating the region’s financial recovery from the pandemic in the medium- and long-term, designed to provide assistance to the region’s hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, and arts and culture, as well as international students, local businesses and the broader community.
The package includes $3.16 million for free parking in 2P spaces in Central Geelong until 31 December 2020 (which was due to expire end of June); $500,000 tourism and events campaign aimed at attracting visitation in the current environment; and $300,000 for Kardinia Pool to operate during winter, allowing increased opportunity for lap swimmers.
There is also $490,000 for arts, culture and heritage initiatives including skills and training and grants; $250,000 in ‘COVID-19 quick response grants’ for community groups, $133,000 in support for international students in Geelong, $232,000 in commercial rent relief for selected tenants of council buildings impacted by the pandemic, and the continuation of the $100,000 ‘small business expert support program’ and the ‘COVID-19 financial hardship policy’, which allows businesses and individuals to defer rates, fees and charges owing to the City.
These initiatives aim to provide practical assistance, lift morale and set Greater Geelong on a faster path to recovery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a major financial and social effect on our community. Unfortunately, the case numbers we have seen in Victoria most recently indicate that it’s clearly not yet over,” Mayor Stephanie Asher said.
From the outset, the Council has been determined to do all it can to guide support towards those hit hardest and to provide a positive and healthy future outlook.”