Council takes another shot at boat ramp

The city is making another attempt at finding a partner to help fund improvements to the Big Rock Boat Launch.

Council, at its Monday meeting, voted to submit an application to the Canada 150 grant program.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said the fund commemorates Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 and is focused on renovation and expansion of recreational infrastructure. Milnthorp said the boat ramp appears to fit the bill.

“The facility has been in need of upgrading for a number of years and this funding program presents an opportunity to partner with senior levels of government to complete the project,” Milnthorp told council.

City council has set aside $500,000 in the city’s 2016 budget for the project, but it’s dependent on the city securing $500,000 in grant funding for the $1 million project.

The city’s share includes $250,000 from its parks reserve fund and $250,000 from the capital lending reserve which would be paid back over three years ($85,625 per year) from the parks reserve.

The project includes construction of a new ramp with a six metre extension, a new breakwater toe, accessible picnic tables, washrooms and improvements to the gravel parking lot.

Coun. Michele Babchuk said with increasing amounts of boaters using the boat ramp each year, it’s vital that the city move forward with the improvements.

“It’s not an anomaly to see 300 or 400 boats out on the hump or at the Green Can during the summertime,” Babchuk said. “I think it’s something that council has made a priority in the past and I would certainly like to see it move forward.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield wanted to know what will happen if the city’s application isn’t successful.

“What happens if our application is not accepted or if we don’t get the funding?” Cornfield asked.

Milnthorp said if that happens, council does have the option of fully funding the project itself during 2017 budget deliberations.

Cornfield suggested city staff also look into applying for Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) funding.

Milnthorp told the Mirror in April that designs for the project are ‘shovel-ready’ and city staff have been constantly scanning for both senior government grants to make the project financially possible.

So far, the city has had little luck in securing such grants.

Last year, the city made an application to the Build Canada Fund for upgrades to Highway 19A, with the boat ramp improvements included in the application. Staff, however, had to remove Big Rock from that application after judges told the city that the boat ramp component was ineligible.