TYSON WHITNEY PHOTO Port McNeill went to great lengths to discuss future grant funding.

Port McNeill council gives staff green light to prepare multi-million dollar funding applications

Interim CAO Nelson-Smith will now prepare two separate funding applications before January 2019.

Local governments are in a rush to prepare funding applications to BC government.

Port McNeill’s mayor and council discussed in detail how to approach two funding streams under what is known as the “Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.” The grants come out of federal funding for BC Infrastructure with a total of four streams of funding.

The first stream, Rural and Northern Communities (RNC), offers $95 million in funding to local governments, which is designed for small-town infrastructure with a population under the 5,000. If the money goes through the Town of Port McNeill may be able to cover up to 100 per cent of any project outlined in their application.

Under “Culture and Recreation Fund (CRF),” which is the second stream of funding, the town will pitch in at least 26 per cent of project costs, noted acting administrator Pete Nelson-Smith.

The town originally had looked to upgrade the pool and recreation facility, “which makes strategic sense as it is already in the heart of our recreation district,” Nelson-Smith’s report read. The project, if it went through, would include a waterpark for children, relining the pool, and building meeting rooms.

North Island Gazette photo The Old School may need renovations soon to continue to provide meeting spaces to community.

The Old School is also “coming to end of life,” according to Nelson-Smith, “if we can’t maintain that building, where could we provide meeting space?”

Shelley Downey, incumbent to council, pointed out that upgrading the existing recreation facility may be useful to the community, offering more meeting spaces. “It looks like a pretty minor funding request,” she said. She added that the staff’s suggested funding request of $5 million may have been a low ballpark figure, and then suggested that $8 million may be more fitting for infrastructure projects.

“We have a limited amount of time to get in on this grant,” Nelson-Smith noted, “so we need a resolution from council before we can proceed with the application.” He confirmed estimated cost was $5 million, which was “quite conservative” according to the province’s correspondence with Nelson-Smith.

North Island Gazette photo The Beach Drive landslide may be an ongoing issue that could be address through government grant funding.

Rookie councillor Derek Koel brought up the Beach Drive landslide issue, having stated a climate project to address the ongoing issue may be covered by funding. “We’ve got a motion for staff to look into one grant … we should look into both grants at the same time,” he said, “and then decide.”

Ryan Mitchell said that, if the staff were given the go-ahead to prepare applications, then when it comes time to decide on a specific project, then “the process is already done, paper work’s on file.”

The council motioned to allow town’s staff to start project applications. The town will need to send both applications to the province before Jan. 23, 2019.

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