Invermere hoping to boost multi-use centre funding

pursing a multi-million dollar grant to help fund the new multi-use centre as well as some other community projects.

The District of Invermere (DOI) is pursing a multi-million dollar grant to help fund the new multi-use centre as well as some other community projects.

Invermere council resolved unanimously during its Monday, April 13th meeting to submit a $6 million grant application to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Strategic Priorities Fund for capital funding for the multi-use centre; another for $1.8 million for revitalization work on 13th Avenue; and still another for $65,000 to help develop an Infrastructure Priorities Replacement Plan.

“The ask (for the multi-use centre application) is for $6 million, but if we’re lucky we’ll get $2 million,” said DOI chief administrative officer Chris Prosser, saying it is rare for applications to get the full amount asked for from this grant.

He pointed out that the total amount of the fund is $120 million and that almost every single one of the more than 180 municipalities in B.C., as well as regional districts, will apply to the grant for at least one project, if not more.

If the funds were distributed equally, the amount coming to each municipality would be less than $1 million, he continued, but added that the multi-use centre application should be a strong contender, since projects must be regional in nature to qualify (which the planned new centre is) and should correspondingly be scored quite highly by UBCM staff.

“There is a genuine regional component, particularly with the recreation and tourism aspects,” said Prosser, who expressed further optimism because this year the final say on applications comes from UBCM staff, not from a federal government minister (as had previously been the case).

“So theoretically the application will be decided solely by the scoring it gets from UBCM staff, not by any political considerations such as trying to curry favour and get votes in a particular riding by approving certain projects,” said mayor Gerry Taft, who also asked if it might be more prudent to pare back the amount asked for in the grant and direct the funding to a specific aspect of the planned multi-use centre, rather than ask for the full amount for the whole project.

Mr. Prosser replied that it is strategically smarter to ask for the full amount.

“Right now, it’s a stronger application than it would be if we broke it down, hived it off and asked for less,” he said.

Councillor Greg Anderson asked what would theoretically happen in the event that the district was granted the full $6 million, if it would mean the district (and its taxpayers) would use the grant funding to build the community centre without borrowing the $5 million approved for the district to borrow by voters in a 2013 referendum.

“It’s extremely unlikely to get the full amount, but if we did I think we would then have to have a discussion on whether or not to include additional phases (several phases are planned for the multi-use centre) and achieve economies of scale in construction,” responded Prosser.

The 13th Avenue revitalization application is a request  for money to help replace sewer and water lines on the avenue between 14th Street and Georlich Road, and to do some road rehabilitation and create a segregated pathway for students walking to Eileen Madson Primary (EMP) school to use.

The Infrastructure Priorities Replacement Plan is a long-term plan stipulating when and how infrastructure should be upgraded and having one would make district planning for such measures more effective.

The Strategic Priorities Fund is doled out every few year, most recently in 2011. In 2011, the DOI had submitted an application to the grant, but did not receive any money.