By J.W. Schnarr
The Municipal District of Taber council has decided on a trail rehabilitation and extension project to help Canada celebrate its sesquicentennial, but just how much funding is available could be an issue down the road.
During their regular meeting on June 9, council agreed to send a funding application to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program for the Rehabilitate and Extend Walking Trails Project.
The project would include trails located within M.D. of Taber Park, as well as in Grassy Lake, Enchant, and Hays.
The Canada 150 grant is an up-to-50 per cent grant, according to Director of Corporate Services Brian Badura, who said he interpreted that wording to mean there was an opportunity for less-than 50 per cent funding to be available.
The wide gap for potential funding is something Reeve Brian Brewin said council should be aware of.
“Are we willing to put $250,000 into trails if we get this grant?” he questioned.
Division 5 Coun. Bob Wallace said he had a question about when the projects were supposed to be completed by.
“They want well thought-out projects that they can put a plate on and celebrate Canada’s 150th,” said Badura.
“When we did up the application, we made that point that this is a great, worthwhile project, and it would be a great project for Canada, and we were going to go ahead no matter what.”
Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring said there could be other grants available for the project, and discussed an opportunity for using recycled rubber as part of the paving material, similar to what has been used in some playgrounds.
Brewin said there have been issues with that material, however.
“I heard that it has been bad for playgrounds, because snakes like to get in there,” he said.
“Well, it won’t matter what you put down in that coulee, there’s going to be a snake,” quipped Deputy Reeve Dwight Tolton.
According to the application, the M.D.’s existing trail system was largely built by volunteers, including members of community recreation associations and not-for-profit organizations, and has been in use for some time in the municipality.
The rehabilitation aspect of the proposed project would include widening existing paths to nine metres in order to allow for bicycle and pedestrian use, trail resurfacing, and bridge replacement. New trails will also be constructed to meet council’s plans to connect all M.D. recreation facilities in all communities and provide a physical activity in the M.D. for people of all ages and abilities. Proposed extensions would effectively triple the size of the current network.
Wallace said even if the application is accepted and grant funding provided, council would still need to go through their priority list to allocate funding to the project.
“There’s a possibility that even if we’re accepted for the full amount, we may not be able to do it. That’s $250,000.”
Tolton pointed out the amount could be divided over three years, making it less of a hit on the M.D.’s bottom line.
Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan also discussed the possibility of receiving a full funding amount from the federal government.
“(Badura) hit the nail on the head with respect to what you can expect for funding,” he said. “There is $120 million on the table, from what we understand, and there’s 40 million citizens in Canada. I would suspect you’d get $3 – $4 per capita.”
Tolton said that could amount to around $30,000 for the M.D.
“I would surmise that everyone who applies will receive something,” admitted Krizsan. “What amount and what percentage of the head, up to 50 per cent. Realistically speaking, I would wager $1 that we’re probably not going to see $250,000.”
Badura said during the application process, he informed the government that the project would go ahead regardless of funding, but in the event there was little or no funding available the project could be scaled back or delayed.
“Part of the difficulty with these kind of projects is the ad hoc nature of funding,” said Krizsan. “We received this in the middle of May, the applications have to be in by June 17, which doesn’t lead to a whole lot of discussion about budgeting.” he added projects already in the works where funding applications can simply be slotted in are a better fit for these types of programs.
“What’s especially frustrating is that we’ve known for 149 years and 11 months that the sesquicentennial is coming,” he said.
Following discussion, council passed a motion to move ahead with the grant application.