Cumberland’s council is looking at how to provide more outdoor eating spaces for downtown by using some restart grant funding. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland’s council is looking at how to provide more outdoor eating spaces for downtown by using some restart grant funding. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland targets grant funding for more outdoor dining space

Council previously used restart grant for infrastructure and technology upgrades

Creating more outdoor dining spaces downtown is one of the menu items for Cumberland’s council when it comes to its latest restart funding.

At the May 10 meeting, economic development officer Kaelin Chambers outlined a number of considerations for the village when using the funding aimed at helping communities respond to economic challenges from the pandemic.

Council had passed motions at previous meetings to use other COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for Local Governments for a range of projects, such as infrastructure and technology upgrades, support for food share programs and start-up money for the Cumberland Business Association (CBA). The restart funding is from a joint federal and provincial initiative.

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Members of council wanted more details about measures such as better wayfinding signage leading into the community or additions such as walkways or barriers to support temporary outdoor dining spaces along Dunsmuir Avenue and how these would address comfort and safety concerns.

“These are coming out of conversations that we’ve had with the CBA,” Chambers said.

Coun. Vickey Brown wondered about ideas such as putting in a walkaround platform downtown for dining areas while still keeping the area accessible. She also asked about measures such as putting tents in parking spaces to provide seating areas.

Chambers agreed there might access questions for some locations.

“We need to be mindful of where we’re putting people,” he said.

He also said they have ordered some picnic tables that can be used downtown, perhaps at locations such as the cultural centre or Village Square. These should arrive by the end of May.

“We can give them a place to go once they’re done standing in line,” he said.

Another item was to spend some money on communications efforts to help with messaging around village projects.

Another topic of discussion was signs to help guide people to public facilities, services or parking in the community. Brown wanted to make sure the signs would include bikes and that the Comox Lake Road traffic and parking issues would be addressed.

Chambers mentioned the example of the new speed sign near the fire hall as an example of a means of sending messages that can be moved around the community.

At the end of the discussion, council passed the motion for the various allocations of funding, as well as to apply to Island Coastal Economic Trust for support and continue working with the CBA on their priorities. The approved expenditures include $25,000 for the development of a corporate communication plan; $2,500 for additional janitorial service; $20,000 for increased COVID-19 related bylaw services; $20,000 to support downtown improvements, including the expansion of public walkways or safety barriers for patio areas; $20,000 toward the installation of wayfinding signage; and $5,000 on the installation of pedestrian safety signage or speed signs or indicators. As well, council agreed to waive all 2021 permit application fees for sidewalk café permit or refund fees already paid for sidewalk café permits.

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