Multi-use centre grant still in limbo

A recently released list of municipal projects in B.C. approved for grants under the Strategic Priorities Fund

A recently released list of municipal projects in B.C. approved for grants under the Strategic Priorities Fund did not include the planned new multi-use centre in Invermere, for which the District of Invermere had applied for a $2 million grant from the fund.

Invermere mayor Gerry Taft was quick to caution, however, that the project’s absence from this initial list does not necessarily mean it has been rejected.

“It may appear that way (that the multi-use centre grant application was turned down), but we are currently exchanging some more information with (those in charge of approving the grant application) and we are still cautiously optimistic. At this point, we don’t have anything more we can say,” he said.

The federal government supplies $253 million to B.C. communities through the federal Gas Tax Fund, and then that money is distributed through three different funds to various infrastructure and capacity building projects through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

This year, the Strategic Priorities Fund drew more than 222 applications from across the province, and so far 57 of them have been approved.

The District of Invermere had initially applied for a $6 million grant for the multi-use centre from the Strategic Priorities Fund, but later reduced that request to $2 million.

“We felt that by lowering the amount we were asking for, and by already having some funding in place, we would increase our chances of having the grant approved,” said Taft. “I think we’ll have a better idea (on whether or not the multi-use grant will be approved) by April.”

If this is the case, the timing will work out well as April is when the tendering process for construction contracts for the multi-use centre will wind down, according to Taft.

A different application to the fund by the district, however, was among the 57 approved projects, with the Invermere receiving $65,000 for its infrastructure priority replacement plan.

“It’s for capacity building around asset management,” said Taft, explaining the grant will help the district manage the life cycles of its various assets, and replace outdated assets in a timely manner.

“So it will be used to hire consultants and to dedicate more time to staff training,” said Taft. “It’s not super exciting and it’s not a key priority of council, but it’s still good to have (the $65,000 grant) approved.”

The 57 approved projects includes two more in the East Kootenay — $2.8 million for Cranbrook’s Idlewild Park rehabilitation project, and $4.5 million for Kimberley’s Gerry Sorenson Way reconstruction project.

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