The City of Nanaimo may have lost grant money earmarked for waterfront walkway construction.
City council voted unanimously Monday that $1 million be made available from the strategic infrastructure fund for walkway work in the 1 Port Drive area in 2019.
According to a staff report, the City of Nanaimo was granted $3.7 million in federal gas tax money last year for walkway work at 1 Port Drive, the boat basin and Northfield Creek, contingent on the necessary approvals, agreements and right-of-way acquisitions being in place by the end of this coming March.
Dale Lindsay, director of community planning, told council Monday that although the city is ready to proceed on walkway work at 1 Port Drive, “the other two projects, we had not made sufficient headway on, enough to actually proceed. The condition was that we proceed on all three.”
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities administers the gas tax grants and Bill Corsan, deputy director of community planning, said “in our conversations with the grant provider, that funding is uncertain at the moment.”
His staff report notes that UBCM has advised that the City of Nanaimo should re-submit a grant application with an adjusted project scope.
Staff asked council for $1 million for the walkway because Corsan said related work is “ready for tender.” The city is building a two-lane road “to an interim standard,” drainage and a walkway connecting Front Street to Port of Nanaimo land.
The staff report notes that the city’s cost to recently acquire a Seaspan right-of-way on the waterfront was $1.8 million less than what was budgeted for in 2018.
“The [walkway] funding is from surplus funds that we did not expect and any of the funds that we would receive from the grant will roll back into the strategic infrastructure reserve and will not have an impact on tax rates,” said Bill Sims, the city’s director of engineering and public works.
Monday’s decision to make $1 million available for walkway work comes after city councillors told the News Bulletin in December that the waterfront walkway hadn’t been reaffirmed as a strategic priority for a new city council.
Corsan’s staff report this week noted that “the waterfront walkway has been a strategic priority and not building it at this time would be inconsistent with previous decisions.”