Council eyes fed money for boat ramp upgrade

The boat ramp project includes plans for a new ramp and six metre extension

Council will apply for a piece of the $150 million the federal government has up for grabs in an attempt to upgrade the Big Rock boat launch.

At its Tuesday night meeting, city council approved submitting the boat ramp project to the Canada 150 fund which was announced on May 15, with applications due in no later than June 17.

Coun. Larry Samson thanked city staff for having a project ready to go on such short notice.

“I’d like to thank staff for having a shovel-ready project on the go,” Samson said. “We’re seeing tight deadlines like this more and more and it’s nice to see staff have projects ready to go.”

The boat ramp project includes plans for a new ramp and six metre extension, as well as a new breakwater toe, and a possible seasonal float. Conceptual plans also include upgrades to the gravel parking area, the installation of a washroom, and the addition of accessible picnic tables.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said city staff had previously made an application to another federal government grant program – the Build Canada Fund – for Big Rock boat ramp upgrades but it was deemed ineligible.

The other portion of that application, for upgrades along Highway 19A from the lift station to the boat ramp, is still under consideration.

Milnthorp said if the highway project is successful and the boat ramp project receives funding under the Canada 150 fund, both projects could be completed together.

The Canada 150 program will provide $150 million for 1,800 community infrastructure projects across the country. Of that, $46.2 million is allocated to B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The fund is a tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday which will be celebrated on July 1, 2017.

The Canada 150 funding program will provide up to $500,000 per project. Milnthorp said that because the Big Rock Boat Ramp project is budgeted at $1 million, the city’s share of the project would be $500,000.

If successful, city staff are recommending the city’s share come from the parks parcel tax and the capital lending reserve which requires a pay back with interest.

“Total interest charges compounded over a three-year pay back would be approximately $50,000, paid by the parks parcel tax reserve into the capital lending reserve under this scenario,” Milnthorp said.

City staff considered other projects for the Canada 150 fund including the Robron Park upgrade project and completion of the Greenways Loop from Maryland to Jubilee.

Milnthorp said, however, that the Robron project does not meet the funding criteria and staff felt that at this time, the boat ramp project would have a greater benefit to the community than the Greenways Loop.