The City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach will receive millions of dollars in provincial funding to help with key infrastructure projects in their respective areas.
Parksville will get $4,789,000 while Qualicum Beach will receive $3,346,000 from the provincial government’s landmark Growing Communities Fund, which provides a one-time total of $1 billion in grants to be distributed to all 188 B.C. municipalities and regional districts.
The District of Lantzville will receive $1,910,000.
Parksville-Qualicum NDP MLA Adam Walker says that it’s an historic investment of over $10 million for the Oceanside region to ensure that people have services they can rely on as populations grow.
“Our cities, towns and regional districts play a key role in planning for our community’s growth and success,” said Walker in a press release. “Our government, led by David Eby, is investing in communities so they can continue providing excellent services for people.”
Adam presented an oversized cheque of $4,789,000 to Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien and councillors Mary Beil, Amit Gaur, Joel Grenz, Sylvia Martin and Sean Wood in front of City Hall on Friday afternoon (March 3).
O’Brien welcomed the provincial funding, which he says they aim to fully take advantage of and us to improve the city’s infrastructure and helpaddress the needs of the community.
“We are going to sit down hard and spend this wisely as we can,” said O’Brien. “It will be a joy to do it. We’re totally in appreciation for the Province of BC and in particular our MLA Adam Walker for helping us out with this. It will be money well spent, I can guarantee you. It does a big help for all of us.”
The funding came at the right time as council is stilll working on the city’s financial and strategic plans said O’Brien, who added that they’re are facing some major expenditures.
“We have increased costs in all of our infrastructure, construction cost and everything,” O’Brien said. “Every quotation we get is like almost double of what we’re anticipating on budget. This helps a long way to offset the huge increases and inflation. It’s going to go a long way. It’s really a big deal.”
Qualicum Beach CAO Lou Varela indicated that town council will get the chance to look at how best to utilize the funding when they deliberate on the municipal budget during the month of March with approvals set for April.
“This new funding…will be held in the capital investment reserve and council will be discussing eligible projects through the upcoming budget process,” Varela explained. “A number of exciting initiatives have been discussed by council throughout their recent strategic planning process, and we look forward to council considering the Capital Program, as part of the budget process, on March 23.”
This one-time fund supports the Union of BC Municipalities’ (UBCM) 2022 Resolution EB58, Improving Provincial Grant Process, and recommendation No. 5 of their 2021 report, Ensuring Local Government Financial Resiliency. The grants are intended to complement, rather than displace, existing infrastructure funding (like sewer, water, roads).
Grants were distributed to the local governments using a formula that incorporates an initial $500,000 per municipality or district, and further adjustments for population size and per-capita population growth between 2016 and 2021, based on BC Stats data. The method considered the impacts of service and amenity demands on smaller and rural communities and the additional pressures experienced by faster-growing communities.
All local governments will be required to report on the use of funds in their annual audited financial statements.
“The transfer of these funds provides massive investments for every local government in the province,” said Jen Ford, president, Union of B.C. Municipalities. “This new funding will allow communities to accelerate the replacement of aging systems, and expansion to current services to better meet the demands of growing populations. The approach of providing funding upfront will ensure that these funds are directed to the most urgent priorities identified in each community.”
— NEWS Staff, submitted