City looks to put best project forward for funding

Council needs to pick and choose between its major projects

City council has a big decision.

It needs to decide which capital project – all of which will have a significant impact on the city’s future – is the most likely to bring in funding from the provincial and federal government.

City staff came up with a short list of projects that offer good potential and meet the strict eligibility requirements of the senior governments’ Build Canada Fund.

The projects are: a dewatering facility/organics composting facility at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre, Highway 19 reservoirs, upgrades along Highway 19A between Rockland Road and Rotary Beach Park, and replacement of the downtown fire hall.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said in creating the short list, city staff met three times to review the funding criteria for the Build Canada Fund and to identify all possible capital projects on the city’s radar.

Neufeld said from there, staff chose the four that are most closely aligned with the funding criteria and council’s strategic priorities.

“Each of the above are legitimate capital projects representing real value to the community,” Neufeld said.

The first project on the list – a dewatering and organic compost facility – is a $3.29 million project that involves the installation of a biosolids dewatering facility and a compost facility that would serve the entire region and divert organics and dewatered biosolid residual into reusable organic compost.

The second project, Highway 19 reservoirs, is estimated at $8.6 million and would follow BLL reservoir expansion to increase water supply resiliency to the city and enhance fire protection.

The Highway 19A upgrade project would improve the section of highway between Rockland Road and Rotary Beach, and would continue the upgrades made along the highway between Hilchey Road and Rockland.

The last project to make the short list – replacement of the downtown fire hall – is estimated to cost $1 million in 2016, $500,000 in 2017 and $9 million in 2018.

The project would involve construction of a new seismically sound no.1 fire hall outside of the flood plain area.

The city has until Feb. 18 to apply for the first round of funding to the Build Canada Fund which provides local governments with money for projects related to economic growth, a cleaner environment, and stronger communities.

Subsequent rounds of funding are determined by how much is left over after the first intake of applications and grant awards.

Neufeld said in awarding the grants, judges rank the projects by “perceived value for money, capacity to support long term growth and sustainability, innovation, and projects that protect and enhance public health and the environment.”

City staff are recommending council hold off on making a decision on prioritizing which projects should vie for funding in what rounds until its strategic planning sessions in early February.

“Selection of a priority capital project for submission under the 2015 Build Canada Fund project is an important decision for the city as the outcome will have a significant impact on the city’s financial state,” Neufeld said. “Given the relatively small level of funding available, compounded with the limitation of only one application per intake cycle, considerable care is required to ensure the selected project is well aligned with the program’s funding criteria.”