The Village of Cumberland office. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland tries again for dam rebuild funding

Village staff do not expect the project to focus on power generation

The Village of Cumberland is hoping to be lucky the second time around on a grant application to help with rebuild work at its No. 2 dam.

In early 2019, it made an application to cover 100 per cent of funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) – Rural and Northern Communities program but found out earlier this year it was unsuccessful.

At that time of the original submission, the budget was around $3.2 million, but cost estimates have gone up, which presents another challenge, according to the Village’s manager of operations Rob Crisfield, though there is now another opportunity to apply.

“They have now opened up another intake for second round,” he told council at the Sept. 28 meeting.

At the time of the meeting, staff were preparing documents and getting ready to submit an application.

Part of the challenge last time was that despite the fact the Village scored well on its application, there was an “over-subscription” of funding applications. A new obstacle could be increased costs as the estimate for work is now $4 to 4.2 million.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland adds funds for dam design work

One of the priorities for the province has been to control erosion at the site. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has also asked the Village to do forest remediation, which Crisfield said involves an approximately million-dollar budget. There may be some funding through grants up to three-quarters of a million dollars. This could reduce the amount needed for the ICIP grant, though the issue before council at the meeting was the ICIP application. For program funding, the Village will enlist the services of a grant writer to help refine the new application.

Members of council talked about the potential of generating power from the local water system. However, Crisfield clarified this application is not focussing on the hydro station or penstock, but the intake.

“There’s no opportunity right now to generate and sell hydro back to BC Hydro,” he said. “We have to look at some different avenues.”

Coun. Vickey Brown asked about potential for net metering, saying she understood that at present there is no opportunity to sell power back to BC Hydro but perhaps there is to generate power for the Village’s own use.

In response, Crisfield said the challenge with the ICIP application is to keep the project smaller in scope because of the level of interest in the program.

“They really like to spread around as much money as possible,” Crisfield said.

He also said that currently net metering does not generate significant money though there could be grant opportunities available, though hydro generation would increase the project cost.

“If you add the hydro, it bumps the project to over $7 million,” Crisfield said. “I don’t think that’ll fly.”

Council unanimously approved a motion for the Village to submit an application for the ICIP program.

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