Rossland council passed two resolutions giving staff the green light to apply for grants to upgrade city utilities, but the motion to ask for free money was not embraced by all of council.
As part of the federal gas tax agreement, city staff can ask for up to $4 million from each of two separate funds for projects that enhance environmental sustainability objectives.
“To go out to apply for funding that is available is the right thing to do on behalf of our community, what we use it for will be decided through staff to council, so go far the stars, that is, go for all the money,” said councillor Jill Spearn.
The money would help pay for upgrades and replacement of sewer and water, and roads and walkways on Columbia Avenue and Washington Street, but councillor Laurie Charlton questioned the timing and plausibility.
The fund that dispenses the grant only consists of $7.9 million so requesting more than half of it “is ridiculous” said Charlton.
“We don’t know what it’s going to include, we don’t know what the actual cost of the planning project is or what we are actually going to be asking for, and given that the applications don’t have to be in until the end of April and there is no draft application here to endorse, I’d like to move that this be moved back to staff for more details and to actually provide us with a draft application.”
However, Mayor Greg Granstrom informed the retired engineer that the resolution was meant only to endorse the application.
“As some may know, we’ve had some heated discussion about proceeding with grant applications so I’m sure staff brought this forward just to see if council endorses moving ahead with the grant application,” he said.
The city must wait for the alternate approval process where Rosslanders lend their input on whether to borrow $6 million for upgrades to Columbia Avenue and Washington Street. With loan approval, the city can then pay for engineering studies that would be necessary before any application can be completed.
“If we just give them (staff) the endorsement they’re looking for, they can just go ahead and do what they are trying to do on behalf of the community,” said councillor Hanne Smith.
Still Charlton was dissatisfied and made a motion that the two applications be reviewed and approved by council before they are submitted to government.
The motion was defeated 4-3 and resolutions to endorse the applications approved.