Planning projects benefit from federal gas tax dollars

Almost $275,000 has been earmarked for Rossland, Fruitvale, Warfield and Salmo.

Four local governments can move ahead with long term plans after a funding boost from the federal government.

Almost $275,000 was collectively earmarked for Rossland, Fruitvale, Warfield and Salmo through the 2016 Strategic Priorities Fund.

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore says investing the city’s $75,000 grant into asset management is a common sense approach to making key decisions in the future.

“We need to develop a robust asset management policy that will guide us, and hopefully future councils, so we can stay on the road to a sustainable, maintainable municipality,” she explained, mentioning the city’s inventory is identified, now its service life must be determined.

“We will work with some of our local government friends, like Grand Forks, who is much farther down this path.

“Then we need to integrate the information into our annual financial plans.”

She said that’s where the task becomes demanding, because the city’s many assets that must be maintained on a small residential tax base.

“These will be the challenges that council and the community will need to struggle with in the upcoming months and years,” added Moore.

Similar planning is underway in the Beaver Valley as Fruitvale embarks on an asset management investment plan with its $45,000 grant.

The goal is to outline a 20-year forecast of expenditures required to maintain sustainable levels of service as well as the condition and risk of the village’s tangible capital assets.

“All residents, businesses, as well as tourists that visit our village, rely on functioning infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer pipes, street lighting,” says Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini.

“This funding support provided by senior governments is deeply appreciated as it assists the village in planning for a sustainable future.”

Locally, Warfield received the largest grant, $77,000 to develop an integrated Official Community Plan (OCP).

Overall, the village’s OCP will be updated and include a long-term sustainability plan with goals that describe where the community wants to be in 25-30 years.

Last summer, Warfield staff and council held a strategic planning session and one of the five points identified was the create an OCP.

“Building a plan of this type requires the contracting of consultants who are experts in the field,” says Warfield Mayor Ted Pahl, noting the federal grant allows the village to develop an OCP at no cost.

“Having this plan in place will enable this government and future governments to make decision that affect our community based on a long term plan.”

Another community, the Village of Salmo, will be comprehensively updating its OCP with it $75,000 grant.

“The project will bring the Village of Salmo’s antiquated OCP into conformance with the Local Government Act and its corresponding requirements including land use, active transportation planning, growth management, infrastructure planning, GHG objectives and community energy and emissions reduction plans,” said village administrator Diane Kalen-Sukra.

“This vital planning project would not have been possible without this federal gas tax fund contribution and the backing of Salmo’s community groups who wrote letters in support of our grant application.”

The grant application was widely supported by community groups, including the Salmo and District Chamber of Commerce, Valley Trails Society, Curling and Rink Association, Celebrations Society, Childcare Society, and Girls Softball Association among others.

The sustainability planning process will take about two years and involve extensive community consultation.

Federal gas tax money is transferred to B.C. annually, totalling $253 million this year.

The funds are administered through a Union of British Columbia Municipalities committee, for a range of projects that improve capacity-building, also referred to asset management, as well as upgrades to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, regional airports and recreational facilities.

Other notable grants are $4.6 million to the Regional District of Central Kootenay for a pool renewal at the Nelson and District Community Complex; City of Castlegar, $250,000 for asset management and climate change framework; $2.8 million for Cranbrook to rehabilitate Idlewild Park; and $4.5 million to Kimberley for the reconstruction of Gerry Sorensen Way.