Council split over grant funds

Motion to support staff to prepare an application for grant funds passes, but with opposition from two councillors.

Applying for federal grant funding split Grand Forks council this week, as councillors debated whether to support an RDKB application or submit for funding of its own to fund $80,000 worth of projects in the city.

The recommendation made at the June 13 meeting was to support city staff as they prepare and submit an application for funding through Canada 150, a federal fund providing money for infrastructure devlopment projects that “celebrate our heritage, create jobs, and improve quality of life for Canadians,” according to the request for decision to council. The motion to submit for funding passed, with councillors Julia Butler and Bev Tripp voting against.

The project covers three improvement initiatives within the city: more infrastructure at the dog park, providing headstones to unmarked graves at the cemetery, and creating signage and walkways in the Johnson’s Flats wetlands.

The total cost of the project is $80,000, with 50 per cent funded by the city and the remaining $40,000 provided by a Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Grant if the grant application is successful.

According to the request for decision, the majority of phase 1 of the project will be funded through donations and Capital Reserves.

Butler questioned whether the $40,000 council was requested to approve was in the current budget. Chief Adminstrative Offier (CAO) Doug Allin confirmed the amount is not currently budgeted.

Tripp questioned the immediate need of the projects, noting that other projects were in more dire need. The regional district is also putting in an application for pool restoration and deck resurfacing.

“This morning when it was bought up that there was a competing application going in for these funds, I’m a little concerned,” Tripp said. “I know the dog park issue, [but] with the people in the cemetery needing headstones, I think those dead people could probably live without the city’s money spent on headstones, and I am not sure about the signage for the Johnson’s Flats wetland project.”

Allin encouraged council to apply for the funding because it had already voted in favour of moving forward on these projects.

“These are projects already under way by council,” Allin said. “Council has approved that we are moving on these projects, so for us looking at this, it would save the taxpayers money if we were successful.”

The issue of collaboration with the regional district was brought forward, with Butler noting that cooperation on one grant application could be better than two applications.

“I just think as we talk about regional collaboration, it would be much more beneficial for us to throw our support behind the regional distrct and their application for the pool, resurfacing of the deck, and to work as a team with the district on that.”

Councillor Colleen Ross spoke in favour of the grant application because of the funds it would give council to move forward on a project she said she feels is important for the area.

“I really like the idea of us moving ahead more quickly on establishing and enhancing the wetland and making it better known with our public,” Ross said. “It’s a significant area in our community and it is a first in our community for us to designate city-owned land as a perpetual green space.”

If the application was unsuccessful, Butler asked whether the project would need to be funded completely by council. Allin said that was unclear, and would be a decision of council at that time.