Cash-strapped Cumberland discussing how to spend new funds

A skatepark and new fire hall were high on Cumberland councillors' to-do lists as they discussed how to spend new amenity funds.

A skatepark and new fire hall were high on Cumberland councillors’ to-do lists as they discussed how to spend new amenity funds.

Council met for committee of the whole Monday to talk about how they should spend funds from the host community agreement (between Cumberland and the Comox Valley Regional District). Cumberland will receive $300,000 per year for the duration of the 20-year agreement; the funds are designed to compensate Cumberland for having a landfill in its boundaries.

As well, the Village already has about $548,500 in unrestricted amenity funds from Coal Valley Estates, so total amenity funds for 2013 sit at $848,500, according to a staff report.

Coun. Conner Copeman suggested building a skatepark in Cumberland Village Park should be a priority.

“It just seemed like it was a medium priority in our long-term master plan and was something that we foreseeably could do as this council — which would be nice,” he said, adding the project could cost about $390,000.

Couns. Gwyn Sproule and Kate Greening immediately said they favoured moving forward with a skatepark as well.

After lengthy discussion, the committee voted to set aside $150,000 of the amenity funds for a skatepark as a way to give the project a kickstart.

The Cumberland Community Schools Society Skatepark Committee has already been working to promote a skatepark in Cumberland, and Village CAO Sundance Topham added the first step would be to meet with the skatepark committee and work out a memorandum of understanding, plus get a cost estimate for the project.

Mayor Leslie Baird said she would like some of the money for a skatepark to come from community fundraising and grants could also be available for the project.

Greening opposed the motion because she said $300,000 should be set aside for the project rather than $150,000.

The motion also asked that nearly $20,000 sitting in a deferred account for the purpose of a skatepark be combined with the $150,000, making the total $170,000. Plus, Village staff are expected to provide a project update to council in the fall.

The committee also voted to set aside $250,000 for a new fire hall for Cumberland.

The need for a new firehall didn’t have much debate; the entire committee seemed agreed upon the need. Village staff have begun searching for a site, and Topham noted council will likely receive an update in the fall.

The committee also voted to allocate $10,000 to revamp the municipality’s street signs, which Baird noted are in need of some additions and replacements. These funds would come out of a separate amenity fund from Slegg Lumber created some years ago.

These motions have yet to be ratified as they were made in committee of the whole, and will come before council at its next regular meeting Aug. 12.

Other ideas included painting the Cumberland Cultural Centre, revamping Lake Park, updating the council chambers and installing a speaker system, fixing up some roads — including repairing the damaged section of Comox Lake Road (now being used as a one-way due to slope failure) — and saving money for future needs.

Topham noted having money in the bank would come in handy if the Village decides to look for matching grants for any of the suggested projects in the future.

“From a staff perspective, I don’t want to spend this money 100 per cent on anything — to be perfectly honest, I’d like to have it all matched,” he said. “But as a general minimum, I think that council needs to look at the possibility of having reserves available for matching funds for grant opportunities moving forward, whatever it may be, whether it’s recreation or roads or other things, it’s just something to keep in mind.”

The host community agreement also states the CVRD will pay up to $3 million for a one-time upgrade to the landfill corridor road (Cumberland and Bevan roads). Geotechnical work is expected to start this year, with the design phase planned for 2014 and construction planned for 2015 and 2016.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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