The City of Campbell River is appealing to the province for help in funding an overhaul of the city’s downtown streets.
At its Monday meeting, council directed city staff to submit three different applications to a senior government grant program.
The money is available under the Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ (UBCM) Federal Gas Tax Fund Strategic Priorities Fund and is up for grabs for capital infrastructure projects as well as capital building projects.
The city, under the capital infrastructure stream, is applying for funding to upgrade lower Shoppers Row, upper Shoppers Row from St. Ann’s to 13th Avenue and 11th Avenue from Shoppers Row to Cypress Street, as well as to continue the city’s broadband initiative throughout downtown.
A second application, which is permitted under the capital infrastructure stream, is for funding for a waterfront sewer system upgrade from Big Rock boat ramp to the Maritime Heritage Centre.
The city’s final application – this one under the capital building program – targets money to help the city implement an Asset Management Strategy aimed at identifying city assets and replacement values as well as providing for condition and risk assessments.
Mayor Andy Adams thanked staff for having so many projects ‘shovel-ready’ which makes it easier for the city to capitalize on grant applications that have quick turn around times.
“Really thank staff for putting us in a position where, when these grants come up with extremely short deadlines – whether it’s federal or provincial – that we are in a design-ready and budget-ready position to make appropriate grant applications,” Adams said.
The first application, for downtown street upgrades, ties into Refresh Downtown – a development plan for the city aimed at revitalizing and promoting downtown as a place to live and do business. Upgrades to lower Shoppers Row – from St. Ann’s to 11th Avenue – are already on the books for this year, with council allocating $250,000 in 2017 for design works.
The project involves sewer, water, storm water, roads, sidewalks, electrical and surface improvements which will replace aging infrastructure and deal with ongoing issues in the downtown related to the London plane trees along Shoppers which have been condemned for contributing to the flooding of downtown businesses. Upgrades to upper Shoppers Row are not on the city budget until 2020 but are the same in scope as the lower Shoppers improvements.
Ron Neufeld, the city’s deputy city manager and general manager of operations, said the application for the Shoppers upgrades could potentially yield grant funding in the multi-millions if the city is successful.
“Any single application would receive a maximum allocation of $6 million,” Neufeld said. “It’s not to say the overall project costs can’t exceed $6 million but that would be the maximum of senior government funding available.”
As for applications to the capital building portion of the grant program, Neufeld said there has been no defined limit but added that UBCM staff has “indicated $250,000 would be considered the maximum for any single application under this stream with projects in the $100,000 and under range being viewed more favourably.”
The city has until June 1 to apply for the grant funding.
If successful, the projects must be completed by 2024 in order to remain eligible for the money.