Strathcona wants a piece of federal pie

The Canada 150 fund was announced by the federal government on May 15

The Strathcona Regional District is putting two projects forward as local governments across the country vie for a piece of the $150 million pie the federal government has up for grabs.

The regional district’s board of directors agreed last week to submit two applications – one for seismic upgrades to the Quadra Island Community Centre and one for the replacement of playground equipment in Area D’s Hagel Park.

Ralda Hansen, the regional district’s community service manager, said both projects fit the criteria of the Canada 150 program.

“There are currently two projects that meet the purpose and intent of the grant program and that will provide a public benefit,” Hansen said. “In Western Canada, strong preference will be given to projects that are undertaking meaningful upgrades to existing cultural and community facilities including community centres and recreational facilities.”

The Canada 150 fund was announced by the federal government on May 15 and is a tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday which will be celebrated on July 1, 2017.

The program will provide up to $500,000 for each of 1,800 community infrastructure projects across the nation. Of the $150 million available, $46.2 million is allocated to B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

If the Strathcona Regional District is successful in securing money from the Canada 150 fund, it will be responsible for putting up 50 per cent of the cost for each project. Upgrades to the Quadra Community Centre are estimated at $300,000. The community centre, which was built in 1985, is the designated community emergency shelter on Quadra Island but a 2013 evaluation of the centre found the building is at risk of unrepairable damage in the event of a significant earthquake. The regional district has been eyeing seismic upgrades for the community centre since 2013 but the funding hasn’t been available.

Meanwhile, the replacement of playground equipment at Hagel park would cost the regional district less money but staff have it ranked behind the community centre in priority.

That didn’t sit well with Area D Director Brenda Leigh at last week’s Wednesday board meeting.

“Irrespective of our CAO’s opinion that the Quadra recreation centre is a higher priority than Hagel Park – and I do have a safety report on Hagel’s playground from our staff – shouldn’t we be leaving it up to the grantors to decide which project might meet their criteria?” Leigh asked.

That prompted Quadra Island Director Jim Abram to jump in: “Excuse me, the CAO said it’s part of the rules that say you have to prioritize.”

In the end, the board voted to submit applications for both projects but did elect to put the community centre before Hagel Park.