The City of Nanaimo is applying for grants from the province to help pay for transportation and infrastructure projects in north Nanaimo, downtown and Harewood.
Applications for two B.C. active transportation infrastructure grants, if successful, could help pay for costs of the second phase of the Metral Drive ‘complete street’ project and for the fourth phase of the Fourth and Albert Street project also known as the VIU bike route.
The grant program is set up to “build a cleaner and greener future for British Columbians by investing in infrastructure that supports safe, human-powered modes of active transportation for daily commuting to school, recreation, work, socializing and errands,” noted a city staff report. It offers funding up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs to a maximum of $500,000.
Shelley Legin, city general manager of corporate services, said at a governance and priorities committee meeting July 12 that staff was recommending two projects.
The city has its share of the funding in place, $2.54 million, for the Metral corridor’s second phase and $700,000 available for the Fourth and Albert project.
Metral is in the final phase of a multi-year project to create a continuous link between Woodgrove, Nanaimo North Town Centre, County Club Centres, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and downtown via the E&N Trail, noted the staff report.
Fourth and Albert is a $1.2-million project to construct 800 metres of bike route on Albert Street from Pine to Dunsmuir streets with construction scheduled to start in 2022.
Both projects are “shovel ready,” according to the report and are “municipal priorities.”
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog questioned whether the applications would translate into actual grant money for the projects and noted recent grant applications for city projects had not been successful.
“We don’t seem to have had much luck with our applications lately, except on smaller projects, and I’m just wondering … are you satisfied that these projects are probably more likely to succeed than other applications?” Krog asked.
Bill Sims, general manager of engineering and public works, replied that he expected the applications would be successful.
“There have been a number of applications that have gone forward this year, but the active transportation ones have been successful in past years and we expect that at least one of these two should be successful,” Sims said. “We understand the province is committing a great deal more funding, which is also the reason for the doubling up [applications].”
The committee voted unanimously to direct staff to file the applications, which must be submitted to the province by July 30.
Under the terms of the grants, if the applications are successful, the projects will have to be completed by March 2024.