Comox town hall. Black Press file photo

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo

Comox set to apply for two infrastructure grants

Sanitary sewer, sidewalk extension in the town’s plans

The Town of Comox will apply for two grants with the goal of improving the town’s infrastructure.

At the Jan. 20 strategic planning committee meeting, council unanimously approved a grant application for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Municipal Asset Management Program for Sanitary Sewer Condition Assessment Program for additional sanitary sewer condition assessment.

According to a report by Shelley Ashfield, the town’s director of operations, inflow and infiltration (I&I) is an ongoing concern with municipal infrastructure. I&I is when water from the environment enters the town’s sanitary system and gets treated when it doesn’t need to, increasing sanitary sewer costs.

Ashfield noted the town currently has an I&I program in place to do annual sanitary manhole inspections and repairs as needed, with an annual budget of $20,000. She said additional sanitary sewer condition assessment would provide information to support sound rehabilitation and/or replacement decisions on the system.

The funding under the grant program is 80 per of the total eligible costs to a maximum of $50,000.

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The second grant application approved by council is for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream for Comox Avenue sidewalk extension (south side) between Rodello and Ellis streets.

The grant is specifically for the retrofit construction of approximately 720m of sidewalk extension which will include the installation of dedicated bike lanes.

The town’s current draft financial plan has the project scheduled for 2021 with a proposed budget of $930,000, subject to grant approval. If approved for the grant, the project must be able to start before Sept. 30, 2021 and be completed by the end of the year.

Coun. Maureen Swift inquired if the project would include underground poles, and if not, how much would it add to the project.

“The poles are not to go underground,” explained Ashfield. “(The cost) would probably be close to one million dollars.”

Mayor Russ Arnott noted one of his concerns about the project is that it would look similar to what the town faced in front of Robb Road school, where telephone poles “are smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk. Are we going to prevent that from happening this time?”

Ashfield said the poles in the middle of sidewalks are one of her pet peeves.

“The majority of our design is around that. You might have one or two that’s basically on the outer boundary on the side of the pole.”

She added while there will not be additional traffic calming measures, the project will remove on-street parking and with a dedicated bike lane, the travel lane widths will be lowered to 3.3m.

“With that infrastructure in place … that has been proven it will have a benefit in decreasing speed.”

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