As they say: when it rains, it pours. This must be the feeling locally as the Central Coast Regional District confirmed it will be receiving just over $6 million in funding to complete several new projects.
One of the largest will be the Centennial Pool Renewal Project. The 50-year old pool basin is due to be replaced with a new 25 metre lap pool (it is currently 18 metres), a 10 to15 person hot pool and a modern mechanical structure for heating. It will also be wheelchair accessible.
It’s expected to cost close to $3.1 million over the next two years, with the majority of the funding coming from the Government of Canada’s Federal Gas Tax Fund and the rest from the CCRD’s Community Works Fund reserve and Asset Replacement Fund.
Centennial Pool was built in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s 100th birthday and is heavily used by Valley residents, especially children, during the summer months.
The other large project is the installation of a new water system on Denny Island, which will see School District #49 and the CCRD partner to construct a water system capable of delivering potable water to Denny Island’s school, as well as many of the residents and businesses on the island. It’s expected to cost $2.5 million.
“This is wonderful news for our community and a great way to launch into the regional district’s 50th anniversary. We have much to celebrate,” CCRD Chair Alison Sayers exclaimed. “A new water system is something Denny Island residents have been asking CCRD to provide for quite some time, and a renewed pool is a real win for all residents and visitors of the Bella Coola Valley. These new projects open doors for even more opportunities for partnerships and collaboration within our region.”
As for costs to the taxpayers, there are some increases there this year as well. Taxes across the district vary depending on the area in which you reside and your property value according to BC Assessment. For example, downtown residents (Area E) are taxed for their own fire department and street lighting, but residents in Area C have the highest assessed average home values ($172,387).
On average, taxes are projected go up approximately 7.7 percent in 2018. Sayers says this increase will mainly go to funding emergency management, economic development, and solid waste management.
However, the budget is still in draft form and there is still time for public feedback before it is finalized on March 29. Public consultations were held in Denny Island and Hagensborg last week, and CCRD will continue to incorporate community feedback into the next draft.
“All of this money is coming in on items that the community really wanted; people have been asking for a better pool and better emergency management,” said Sayers.
“The reason we are receiving these grants is because the board listened to its constituents and worked hard to prioritize their concerns and wishes, and we continue to advocate on their behalf,” she explained. “The entire organization is forming essential partnerships within the community, and regional district staff have been exceptional in their efforts to obtain these grant funds. It’s a very competitive process, so our success speaks to the synergistic nature of the organization and our community right now.”
Sayers confirmed that a stand-alone Emergency Program Coordinator position will be created, and discussions are still underway on whether or not it will be a shared position funded by both the district and Indigenous and Northern Affairs. If so, it would be the first of its kind.
There will also be multiple opportunities for local employment, as these large capital projects will require both equipment and labour.
“It is a priority of the CCRD to get local people working on these projects,” said Sayers.
Other funding announcements include the BC Rural Dividend Program special circumstances provision; which was made available to communities affected by the 2017 wildfires.
The CCRD is being awarded $392,282 to remove obstacles that restrict aircraft access to the Bella Coola Airport. This will enable access for larger aircraft and increase passenger traffic into the region.
The project will also involve engagement and collaboration efforts with the Nuxalk Nation to develop a site plan for trail development and culturally specific tourism components on the land surrounding the airport.
The CCRD is also being awarded $100,000 to update its website and create a marketing video showcasing the people, communities and culture of the region – and opportunities for investment.
The Central Coast Communications Society is being awarded $79,670 to start up Bella Coola Makerspace, a high-tech, multi-material fabrication studio where community members can learn how to use, design, create, modify or repair a wide range of hardware and software.