City on the hook for grant money if it misses deadline

If the city fails to adopt its new Sustainable Official Community Plan by February it will have to pay back thousands of dollars

If the city fails to adopt its new Sustainable Official Community Plan by February it will have to pay back thousands of dollars in grant money say city staff.

The city secured significant funding to aid in the drafting and completion of the Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP) in late 2009 and early 2010. However, two of the grants will only be provided if the city completes the plan by pre-determined deadlines.

“External funding depends on the SOCP being adopted by the end of February,” Ron Neufeld, city manager of operations, told city council last week. “If it’s not, we risk losing that funding.”

A $140,000 grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund (FCM) and a $20,000 grant from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia both have a deadline of Feb. 28, 2012 said Ian Buck, city planner.

The grants originally had a deadline of Feb. 15, 2011 and March 31, 2011 respectively but the city applied to extend the deadline until next year.

“Staff have previously requested and received extensions to these deadlines; however, we are at the maximum funding extension allowable (two years) for the FCM grant,” Buck said in a report to council. “Failure to adopt the SOCP within the allotted time will be detrimental to our ability to obtain future grants and require repayment of the grant money received.”

At last week’s Tuesday council meeting city council voted to give first and second reading to the Sustainable Official Community Plan at its next meeting, Jan. 10. City staff then hope to send the plan to a public hearing on Feb. 1 or 2 and finally, prepare the plan for third reading and adoption on Feb. 7.

“These dates will provide some flexibility to allow for consideration of adoption on Feb. 24, 2012 should the need arise,” Buck said.

The city began work on the community plan in May 2010. Since then, the city has held several open houses and community input sessions.

“Considerable effort has been spent on public consultation over the last 18 months,” Buck said. “A draft plan was completed for public and stakeholder review in Sept. 2011. Feedback on this draft has been received and staff are currently working on revisions.”

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