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Parksville receives $3.5M in 'gas tax' funding

Council approves Community Works Fund agreement distributed by UBCM
Parksville Civic and Technology Centre located at 100 Jensen Ave.

Parksville has received confirmation the city will receive approximately $3.5 million in federal "gas tax" funding over the next five years.

Council voted unanimously to authorize the mayor and corporate officer to sign the Community Works Fund Agreement during its July 3 meeting. The funding is distributed through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

The updated agreement is based on a 10-year term, according to director of finance Jedha Holmes, with the first five years of funding provided specifically. 

“I’m pleased to see it’s a 10-year agreement. It lends some certainty to what we assumed would be continued but we didn’t have confirmation on that," said Mayor Doug O'Brien. “We know that there’s some big numbers coming at us from different areas of infrastructure replacement or improvements, anyways, so I appreciate that continuity."

The Community Works Fund is one stream of the Canada Community Building Fund, also known as the gas tax.

“The first five years are about $3.5 million," Holmes said. "And although the amounts aren’t exactly the same in our financial plan, they’re roughly the same."

A change to the funding rules means municipalities can fund an individual fire truck, according to Holmes.

“Previously you could only have a fire truck in a project if you were building a new hall and truck all together in one project," she said.

A new resilience category has been added, which allows local governments to use the money for infrastructure and systems that protect and strengthen the resilience of communities and to withstand and sustain service in the face of climate change, natural disasters and extreme weather events.

“As in the past, the upper levels of government want to see us spending these funds and not just keeping them in reserve," Holmes said. "So what we’ll bring to you as part of the financial planning is choices on that funding with probably our recommendation being to first use this grant funding so upper levels of government see that we need it and we’re spending it."

Among the uses for the funding are: building dams and dikes to reduce flooding; restoring wetlands and other natural infrastructure to redirect and capture rainwater; and seismic upgrades and installing retaining walls to control erosion.

Some additional reporting and communications are now required, Holmes said. Local governments must submit audited financial statements and report in advance what they intend to use the funding for.

Municipalities must also commit to strengthening their "asset management activities", Holmes added. Parksville has been making progress in this area in the past few years, she said.

The funds must be put in a separate bank account, Holmes said, and added she is unsure of the reasoning.

The city had approximately $4.55 million in its gas tax reserve at the end of 2023, Holmes said, which has been fully allocated in the five year financial plan.

The funds come in two instalments, Holmes said, usually one in August and a second by March, although historically it arrives early, in November or December.

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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