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City of Port Alberni receives grant funding for Roger Creek Trail work

Council must decide whether to accept grant after removing project from budget consideration
The proposed trail that will link Roger Creek Park to the Scott Kenny Trail. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Port Alberni city council has to make a decision on whether or not to fund a project connecting Rogers Creek Trail and the Scott Kenny Trail.

Last September, council agreed to budget $290,000 towards this project in 2023. However, city staff decided to remove the item from the budget to try and lower taxes in 2023.

On Feb. 14, the city learned that it was successful in receiving grant funding of $435,978 from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for the Roger Creek Connector Trail Project. Now council must decide whether it will accept this grant funding, which will require a $290,000 contribution from the city.

City CAO Tim Pley explained during a regular meeting of council on Feb. 27 that the multi-modal trail will connect the existing path along Rogers Creek to the Scott Kenny Trail. The project will also fortify some of the bank of Rogers Creek, which is currently at risk of slumping.

(Rogers Creek is named after Jerry Rogers, who worked for the Anderson Company in the 1860s).

“So we’ll be doing some environmental work while we’re in there and have a great path, as well,” said Pley.

The project was discussed again during a committee of the whole meeting on March 6, where economic development manager Pat Deakin said the city is planning to use consultants to complete the work, which is expected to be done by March 2024. City staff would have overview of the project, he said, “but we did not anticipate that our crew would be doing the work.”

Pley said that the city will be looking into whether or not they can defer the grant funding to 2024, and whether or not the city can actually complete the work in 2023.

“There’s a lot of grant funding out right now for infrastructure, and we expect that engineering firms will be very busy,” he said. Pley added that the situation shows the city needs to be “grant ready” on projects, so that when funding does become available the city can act on it right away.

Mayor Sharie Minions said that she doesn’t think the city can afford to add $290,000 to its budget this year, but also noted that municipalities across the province are going to be receiving some grant funding from the province for infrastructure in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: B.C. municipalities awaiting details of $1B community grant announcement

“I think we’re not going to be in a position where we have to say ‘no’ to the grant and turn it away,” she said.

The city will consider this funding during upcoming budget meetings. The next budget meeting is an “E-Town Hall” scheduled for Monday, March 20 at 6 p.m. This will give members of the public an opportunity to ask questions of staff and council electronically or in person.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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