The City of Port Alberni is applying for provincial funding to upgrade its historic train station.
The province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program is offering a one-time 100 percent funded project of up to $1 million, city economic development manager Pat Deakin said during a virtual council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Although the program offers funding up to $1 million, Deakin explained that it is “unlikely” any community will get a full $1 million dollars for the project. He expects the city could receive closer to between $300,000 and $500,000. There is $90 million available total, and 355 eligible applicants in the province.
The projects that are likely to receive funding will have an emphasis on job creation, Deakin added.
“We’ve provided a few ideas with respect to what the city’s application might consist of, but they’re just ideas,” said Deakin.
Some of the proposed projects from city staff included the train station, railway, McLean Mill and a trail connecting the Scott Kenny Trail and Roger Creek Park.
Given the fact that the city is currently working on a request for expressions of interest for the train station, Mayor Sharie Minions said the train station is a project that stands out on the list. Seismically, the city-owned, heritage-designated train station is in need of some upgrades to meet modern codes.
“I think this is a great opportunity to talk about some of the projects we’ve been looking at for the past few years,” said Minions. “I would be really excited for us to apply for a retrofit to the train station through this fund.”
She explained that the new mural across the street from the train station is “just the start” of what could potentially be a community hub. The city has already had interest from a few businesses about leasing the train station, she added.
Councillor Cindy Solda agreed that the train station was her favourite project on the list, too.
“There’s so much that has to be done on that building and it would cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” she said. “I think this would be a great project for this grant.”
Councillor Ron Paulson brought up the aging clock tower at Harbour Quay, but Deakin said an update on the clock tower will be coming to the next council meeting (Oct. 26).