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Thunder Bay makes grants available again for downtown improvement

 The Community Improvement Plan (CIP) program was renewed for funding at a recent city council meeting with an annual budget of $200k for the year (half the funding from the CEDC).

Building owners in the identified community improvement zones can apply for grants up to $25,000 per building from a variety of different eligible activities:

Two of the goals of the relaunched Downtown Improvement Grant Program are making Thunder Bay’s cores more inviting and vibrant.

The program, implemented through the amended Community Improvement Plan and administered by the City’s Planning Services Division, allows for eligible property or business owners to apply for up to four grants to encourage redevelopment and investment in the North and South cores, as well as the Westfort business area.

“This partnership program between the Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and the City is a great way to help reinvigorate the downtown cores,” said Devon McCloskey, Supervisor – Planning Services.

“This program can help improve the appearance and feel of our downtowns, help property and business owners make improvements, and provide a better experience for visitors and shoppers in the historic core areas of the city.”

Downtown Improvement Grants can:

  • Rebate the cost of building permits and planning application fees
  • Reimburse 50% of the cost to improve commercial fa├žades
  • Reimburse 50% of the cost to convert or improve a second floor into an office or residential unit
  • Reimburse 50% of the cost to convert or improve a main floor into a commercial space

Each of four grants has a $10,000 cap, and can be stacked for a total reimbursement of up to $25,000. The funding cannot be applied to work done before an application is submitted.

City council has approved a budget of $200,000 for the program this year, with half of the funding provided by the Thunder Bay CEDC.

Aaron Gillingham, the Owner of The Sal and East Coast Lobster is one of the program’s participants from 2021, using the money to improve the former Maier Hardware Building on Brown Street.

“I saw an opportunity to get support from the city with a program like this,” Gillingham said. “It made the decision to renovate easier, adding financial stability to the process.”

Applications for the Downtown Improvement Grants can now be found on the City’s website.

For more information, visit


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