A new boathouse at Loudon Park and a resurfaced track at Rotary Bowl stadium are on city council’s wish list for infrastructure grants.
City of Nanaimo council, at a meeting Oct. 5, voted for the two projects from a list of five put forward by staff.
Other projects deemed to fit the grant criteria included electrical upgrades at Beban Park, playground upgrades at Maffeo Sutton Park and a new washroom building at Maffeo Sutton.
The grant money, if approved, would come from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program created to help B.C. communities recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $100-million program, available to local governments, indigenous applicants and not-for-profit organizations, is intended to create employment and covers 100 per cent of funding for projects up to $1 million with costs exceeding that to be covered by the applicant.
Eligible applicants can submit grant applications for projects to be completed by spring 2023.
The existing Loudon Park structure is now 50 years old and would be replaced with a 5,500-square foot multi-use boathouse to be used by the Nanaimo Canoe and Kayak Club, Nanaimo Rowing Club and the public. It would combine a community meeting space with public washrooms, offices, secure boat storage, kitchen and other features.
Cost for to construction is forecast at $1.87 million with the city’s $870,000 share possibly offset with money from the Gas Tax Community Works Fund.
Council voted to apply for money to build the new facility with councillors Erin Hemmens, Tyler Brown and Ben Geselbracht opposed.
Hemmens said she favoured applying for money to upgrade electrical systems at Beban Park, which would create a cash surplus that could be used elsewhere.
“I’m a huge fan of the Loudon paddling centre concept, but I would prefer to have something that’s already on the books and that’s going to actually save us some money in the long run because I think that’s responsible,” she said.
Hemmens then motioned for council to support resurfacing the Rotary Bowl track because it “supports children having healthy lives” and it’s something students from across the city and a range of economic backgrounds can use. Coun. Sheryl Armstrong seconded the motion based on similar reasoning.
“I’m 100 per cent in favour of this, as well, and I’d also like to note that a lot of seniors use this track, especially those that have had knee or hip replacements because it has a rubbery surface with … less impact,” Armstrong said.
She said Nanaimo hosts a lot of sporting event, but given the current condition of the track, may not be eligible to host some of those events.
“It’s also a way to get outside and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Even if you don’t have a good pair of runners you can still get out and use it, whereas a lot of our other sporting events cost a lot of money,” she said.
Geselbracht said he couldn’t support resurfacing the track over Beban Park rec centre electrical upgrades, and Brown was also opposed.
Deadline for grant applications is Oct. 29.