Gibsons officials have identified a new grant opportunity for Armours Beach improvements, but given the tight deadline to apply, questions centred on how to fund the Town’s portion.
Director of parks Wendy Gilbertson provided details on the grant opportunity, made available through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WEDC), during the July 24 committee of the whole meeting.
“I had to quickly do some hustling to get the information out and the deadline to getting in is Aug. 2, so it hasn’t left us an awful lot of time, or anybody an awful lot of time, to get prepared for it,” she said, suggesting Armours Beach as a possible project.
The grant was set to provide selected projects with 50 per cent funding, up to $250,000. A second condition holds that work must be completed by March, 2014.
Gilbertson recommended targeting the former Gibsons Pigs Rugby clubhouse building for repairs. With the help of building inspector Chester Machniewski, staff identified roughly $234,000 worth of possible repairs, including a 20 per cent contingency.
That would mean the Town would need to come up with $117,000 to take advantage of the funding and complete the work on deadline.
“Then we’ll have more time to go through the planning process for further amenities,” she suggested.
Coun. Gerry Tretick asked director of finance Ian Poole what possible avenues the Town might have to pay for such a project.
Gibsons could either pre-commit the total from next year’s general capital planning budget, or borrow the money at interest — a move that would require the public’s consent through an alternate approval process. That could add several months to the project.
“On a straight taxation lift, if we were to say ‘let’s increase our taxation,’ we’d probably be looking at somewhere in the neighbourhood of six per cent just to fund this project,” he advised. “There are different ways to slice and dice.”
Coun. Lee Ann Johnson said there were many reasons to like the project, but she too was worried about the cost.
The Town had recently been denied a grant worth around $397,000 that they had hoped would finance improvements at Armours. That grant would have seen Gibsons taxpayers on the hook for under $100,000.
Coun. Dan Bouman suggested the Town proceed with an application while exploring its financial options.
The committee moved the recommendations to have council approve a grant application that targets a renovation of the rugby building.