Morden Mine group seeks support

Damage mitigation at the Morden Mine site to the tune of $45,000 could be part of the Regional District of Nanaimo's 2015 budget.

Short-term damage mitigation at the Morden Mine site to the tune of $45,000 could be part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s 2015 budget.

The Friends of Morden Mine non-profit society made a presentation at the Feb. 24 board meeting. While directors subsequently voted to approach the Province of B.C. concerning the restoration of the tipple and headframe, and requested staff examine grant funding opportunities, they also deferred discussion on the $45,000 until Tuesday’s (March 10) committee of the whole meeting.

The $45,000 would cover removal of wood material on the headframe, perimeter fence relocation and extension and clearing of trees, as falling trees could damage the structures.

The three items were estimated at $15,000 each and were deemed urgent by a Read Jones Christoffersen engineering study in order to protect the public and preserve integrity of the structures.

Eric Ricker, Friends of Morden Mine co-president, said the study estimated total cost to repair the structures at about $2.8 million and he is hoping the regional district applies on its behalf to the Building Canada Fund for infrastructure.

“Forty-five thousand dollars is just prep work,” said Ricker. “It’s stuff they have to do before they do anything.”

He said spending the money would be a waste if a commitment isn’t made to fixing the structures.

According to Paul Thorkelsson, regional district chief administrative officer, the money would likely come from the 2015 grant-in-aid fund, if approved. Any discussion on the $2.8 million would have to come at a later date.

“Their request was that the RDN make an application to the gas tax funding program for the $2.8 million. That hasn’t been the direction of the board. The only direction has been to look at what other grant funding opportunities might be available, which we believe to be fairly limited.

“Beyond that, that would be a discussion for another day,” said Thorkelsson.

Time is of the essence for both the regional district and the Friends of Morden Mine, as both are facing deadlines.

The society is looking to make the application deadline for the Building Canada Fund on April 15 and the regional district is aiming to pass its budget at its March 24 board meeting.

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