By Tim Kalinowski on May 12, 2021.
The Economic Standing Policy Committee of city council passed an omnibus measure which approved most projects left over under the C (Transportation Projects), E (Environmental Utilities) and F (Electric Utility) Sections of the Capital Improvement Program investment proposals for 2022-2031 cycle Tuesday morning, and was able to successfully to get a start on considerations in Section D (Community Projects) in the afternoon.
Before moving on to D Section council debated and unanimously passed a motion by Coun. Jeffrey Carlson, who is acting as vice-chair of Economic SPC, to put aside $10 million in CIP funding as a reserve against future needs or if additional federal or provincial grant opportunities become available in the next four years which require matching funds from the City instead of allocating all available CIP funds.
Prior to approving Carlson’s motion, Coun. Joe Mauro had sought to put aside $25 million in CIP reserves for that purpose by amendment, but his motion was defeated 6-3.
Section D projects passed as of press time on Tuesday included $650,000 in yearly funding for parks asset management, which includes replacement of benches and other parks infrastructure. Councillors did question why these ongoing operating costs should be coming out of the CIP fund when they are clearly operating costs and not capital investments? Coun. Carlson proposed an amendment which directed City Manager Craig Dalton bring back proposals to the next elected council on how to move those costs over to operating, but would continue to fund this program from CIP through 2022.
Coun. Blaine Hyggen attempted to amend Carlson’s motion to move funding for these asset management costs to the City’s MRSR reserves instead of CIP for 2022, but this was defeated by a vote of 5-4.
SPC members also approved $500,000 in funding each year for the City’s Pathway System and Connections and Extensions program from available CIP funds. Members approved another $100,000 per year for City facility accessibility upgrades, $300,000 per year for energy efficiency upgrades, and allocated $700,000 in one time funding for renovations to the City’s existing back up Public Safety and Communications Call Centre. Members also unanimously approved $530,000 in funding for renovations to the Fritz Sick Pool as a “short term” fix for the larger problems with the existing facility.
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