Qualicum Beach’s Memorial Avenue upgrades are scheduled to move into phase three in early 2018, but some town councillors are still concerned about the nearly $7 million estimate for the phase.
Councillors Barry Avis and Anne Skipsey both brought up their concerns for the cost of the third phase of Memorial Avenue, which is budgeted for $6.8 million, at last Monday’s council meeting.
According to the 2018-2022 financial plan, Memorial phase three is budgeted only for 2018.
Skipsey said she feels the town is spending far too much on Memorial Avenue upgrades.
“I still have not seen any data or information that tells me this project and all of the elements in it are absolutely needed,” Skipsey said. “In attempts to chase grants, we’ve added more and more and now we are looking to spend $7 million on phase three alone.”
In August, engineering director Bob Weir told The NEWS Class C cost estimates for phase three, which include a conservative buffer, include $1.7 million for the bike path and overlay from Village Way to Crescent Way, $1.745 million for the Memorial Avenue/Highway 19A roundabout and $2.22 million for the foreshore, Beach Creek and estuary improvements.
Skipsey suggested instead putting extra money into reserves for when the town needs to replace infrastructure.
“Who knows what surprises a rainy day might bring us,” Skipsey said.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek said as for chasing grants, there were discussions beforehand. He said he heard complaints that the rain garden (a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from urban area to be absorbed) for Memorial Avenue was a gimmick or unnecessary, but he said that isn’t the case.
“I think you saw it working the other day when we had lots of rain,” said Westbroek, referring to last weekend’s rainfall. “That system works. It wasn’t a gimmick. It’s actually is a benefit to the environment and to our process as far as dealing with storm water.”
In April, the federal and provincial governments invested about $1.4 million toward phase three of the Memorial Avenue upgrades through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.
Westbroek said the elements the town uses to get government grants are legitimate.
“You talk about infrastructure, and improving infrastructure, that’s exactly what we’re doing with (the funding),” Westbroek said, referring to Skipsey’s earlier comments.