Penticton council will decide Tuesday, May 16, whether to approve the use of more than $7 million in provincial grant money for a reserve fund made up of three categories: existing projects, new community projects and the North Gateway.
The B.C. government first announced in February the unveiling of $1 billion in new grants for all 188 provincial municipalities and regional districts to help build community infrastructure and meet the demands of “unprecedented population growth.”
Penticton is now on the receiving end of $7.1 million in grant money, as a result.
City staff is proposing to use 20 per cent of the money for existing transportation, facility and neighbourhood projects to accommodate for inflation and another 40 per cent for community projects that are unfunded.
“The city is facing the same inflationary pressures as are being experienced everywhere in the world, and the actual cost for already approved projects are in 25 to 40 per cent higher than budgeted in some cases,” staff wrote in its report to council.
The remaining 40 per cent of Penticton’s grant money would be used to implement a number of North Gateway-related proposals, like traffic-pattern changes to Highway 97 and Westminster Avenue.
Penticton’s $7 million stake in the fund is based on a formula that incorporates an initial $500,000 per municipality, and further adjusts for population size and growth between 2016 and 2021, according to the province.
Staff lists the following existing projects that may require 20 per cent of the fund:
• Facilities projects (Community Centre upgrades, SOEC sign, City Hall renovations, etc)
• Neighborhood rehabilitation projects (paving, road rehabilitation)
• Transportation projects (ex. sidewalk program, traffic calming)
• Parks projects (Skaha Splash Pad, Court upgrades, Decorative scrolls, etc)
Unfunded community projects, as identified by council include:
• Downtown, Okanagan and Skaha Lake decorative seasonal lighting displays
• Riverside Skate Park and Basketball Court Lighting
• Urban Forestry Master Plan projects
• Kiwanis Pier replacement and park upgrades