Johns talks grants, veteran housing pilot with Qualicum Beach council

MP says he will help push for funding at the federal level

Qualicum Beach council is looking at a number of grant proposals, as well as a veteran housing pilot project, with help from Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns.

Council met with Johns on Jan. 16, and asked him for help in moving forward three proposals that have already been submitted to the federal government.

The veteran housing project is in very preliminary stages, but both the council and Johns agreed to continue the conversation. Johns brought up a House of Commons motion to end veterans homelessness by 2025, and said he thought Qualicum Beach could contribute to that initiative. He pointed to the town’s large and active legion, as well as current affordable housing efforts from the council.

Bob Weir, Director of Engineering and Operations for the town, spoke on the proposals. They include submissions to: the Airports Capital Assistance Program; the Rural and Northern Communities Program and the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach wants to make town’s airport financially sound

The airport grant is for $1 million and would help fund an upgrade to the lighting, which the council said is vital for the safety of the airport. The application to the federal government has been in for almost a year.

“We’re happy to follow up,” said Johns. “I understand the seriousness of the situation.”

Coun. Robert Filmer said the airport needs a carrier, but that the lack of lighting is holding them back.

Also discussed was the Rural and Northern Communities Program — the council is asking for grant money to upgrade the roundabout at Highway 19A and Village Way.

“Coming out of Eaglecrest, it’s just nasty,” said Mayor Brian Wiese. “This is quite high up on our list.”

Weir said the town took a big hit when they became financially dependent for Village Way and 19A — both were previously provincial highways.

“That’s a good argument,” said Johns, who agreed to follow up on the proposal.

The final proposal that was brought up concerned community park field upgrades, which would look into creating an artificial field for the town.

Johns said finding funding for projects like that is limited, but that he thinks the town hasn’t asked for too much.

“You haven’t asked for a lot, I think the government needs to look at that,” said Johns.

A larger conversation was also had about the relationship between the town and the federal government — both parties agreed that meetings like this should be more frequent.

“I would like to do this more often”, said Wiese.

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