Highway 19A improvements get city staff backing

It was chosen from a short list of three other capital projects

And the winner is…

The Highway 19A improvement project.

An upgrade to the Island Highway between Rockland Road and Big Rock Boat Ramp has been selected by city staff as the best project to put forward for senior government grant funding.

It was chosen from a short list of three other capital projects – a dewatering/organics composting facility at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre, Highway 19 reservoirs, and replacement of the downtown fire hall.

While it has been chosen by city staff as the project to pursue, the funding isn’t guaranteed.

The initiative will be one of hundreds put forward by B.C. communities with populations of less than 100,000.

All will be vying for funding under the Build Canada Program which provides up to two-thirds of project funding to local governments, split between both the provincial and federal governments.

Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said city staff met with council at a lunch and learn session on January 27 to discuss what options were available and which projects would have the best chance at being successful in garnering funding.

“The section of Highway 19A (Rockland to Big Rock Boat Ramp) as the capital project for submission under the 2015 Build Canada Fund program is an important decision for the city as the outcome will have a significant impact on the city’s financial state,” Hadfield wrote in a report to council. “Given the relatively small level of funding available for the overall program, 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.”

The Highway 19A upgrade project would improve the section of highway between Rockland Road and Big Rock Boat Ramp – including improvements to the boat ramp itself – and would continue the improvements made along the highway between Hilchey Road and Rockland nearly five years ago.

The other projects to make the city’s short list for the Build Canada Fund are a $3.29 million regional dewatering and organic compost facility to divert organics and biosolids into reusable organic compost, as well as an $8.6 million reservoir expansion to increase water supply to the city and enhance fire protection. The third project on the list is a replacement of the downtown fire hall, 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 city’s flood plain area.

The city has until February 18 to put forward a project for funding, and council was expected to give staff the go ahead to make the submission at its Tuesday evening meeting, after the Mirror went to press.

Hadfield said judges will rank applications 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.”