FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020
BELLEVILLE – A $27,607 investment from the Province of Ontario will make holiday celebrations in downtown Belleville brighter this season, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte announced today.
The Belleville Downtown District BIA’s Enchanted and Festival Lights programming was one of the first 27 project across Ontario to receive funding through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program, a $9-million initiative to help municipalities and organizations deliver innovative and safe experiences to help people connect with their own communities in new ways during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The projects offer lighting displays in Victoria Park and through the historic downtown area and support an enhanced atmosphere by supporting pedicab transportation, live music, local artisans, outdoor fireplaces and extended options for dining and evening shopping.
“We know that special events like those planned for downtown Belleville add value to our communities, offering special experiences and boosting our local economy,” said Smith. “I’m pleased to see Ontario offer this support for our businesses through the Reconnect program. I hope Quinte residents come out for the lights and attractions and stays to see what our merchants have to offer.”
Marijo Cuerrier, the executive director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA, was thrilled to receive the funding in time for the holiday season.
“The Reconnect grant funding from the Ontario government has allowed the Belleville Downtown District to develop and implement six weeks of holiday experiences that are safe and fun for our local community in these unpredictable times,” said Cuerrier. “The side effect is a happy community as we lead up to Christmas. The downtown core is vibrant and inviting, which leads to more support for our local business. It’s a win-win for all involved.”
After launching the Reconnect program in October, the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries has extended the deadline for the Reconnect program to invite additional organizations to seek support for safe programming options such as virtual or drive-thru events. The new deadline is Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. interested organizations can view the program criteria at https://www.ontario.ca/page/available-funding-opportunities-ontario-government#section-16.
“The pandemic continues to disproportionately impact tourism and culture – two major industries that normally connect us to each other and bring our communities to life,” said Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “It is critical that we support organizations that are finding new ways to engage and reconnect Ontarians with their local communities while creating local jobs. The Reconnect Festival and Event Program will help support the economic and social recovery of communities across Ontario.”
- To make the Reconnect Festival and Event Program accessible to more organizers, the government is waiving the minimum operating budget requirement.
- Reconnect Festival and Event Program funding may be used for eligible expenses such as programming and production, promotion, mobile applications and website development, and implementation of health and safety measures.
- Eligible events include reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year’s Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings.
- Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario, supporting more than 400,000 jobs and generating over $36 billion in spending.
Successful Reconnect grant recipients: http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/awards_funding/Reconnect_Weblist_EN_AN1-2-3_V1_FINAL-s_1205951.pdf