The City of Port Alberni is slowly moving forward on a waterfront pathway that will connect Harbour Quay and Victoria Quay, but some questions still remain about funding.
During a virtual meeting on Monday, Sept. 28, Port Albern city council voted to submit two applications for grant funding for the Quay to Quay pathway. City CAO Tim Pley explained that $2.5 million in grant funding is available.
“Because of the grant intake deadline, we’ve had to accelerate some aspects of the project,” he added.
City staff have identified a “preliminary route” for the pathway that mostly follows the rail line, but more formal consultation with landowners and public engagement still needs to take place.
“We think that route can be improved over the course of time, through further engagement with property owners,” said Pley.
McElhanney Engineering has provided a cost estimate to the city of around $7 million for the Quay to Quay pathway. With a $2.5 million grant, the city still has to come up with another $4.5 million.
However, Mayor Sharie Minions pointed out on Monday that this number is only a “placeholder” in the budget.
“There are a lot of changes that could be made at this point,” she said.
Economic development manager Pat Deakin explained that the city will find out if the grant applications have been successful in the summer of 2021. The city will then be required to complete the project by 2026.
“This is going to be a process,” said Minions. “It allows us the time to find other sources of funding for the project before we actually have to start doing work.”
Councillor Debbie Haggard said this pathway will help Port Alberni capitalize on its waterfront. She drew comparisions to waterfront walkways in Nanaimo and Campbell River.
“I know the price tag is very heavy, but I think we can continue working towards other financial opportunities,” she said. “At the end of the day, we have to invest in ourselves if we want other people to come into the community and invest in our community.”