Mayor’s Column – March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017

 

Competition for government grants for major capital projects is intense. There is never enough money for all the hopefuls to be satisfied. For every dollar of grant money being made available there must be five hopeful projects waiting for the announcement to begin work.

It’s no different in Chetwynd. We win some and we lose others. (You will remember the sewer treatment grant of $3 million last year that enabled the District of Chetwynd to become compliant with discharge regulations.) Council and Administration have not been slack in following up every opportunity for a grant if the project can be found in the capital plan. Because most grants cover only part of the cost of the project, if the potential grant is for a project that is not in the capital plan, usually it will not be pursued.

Management has been fully aware, and has kept Council aware, that the water treatment plant requires total replacement and the airport runway is in need of repaving if Chetwynd is to continue receiving air ambulance and other services. Capital planning requires long looks into the future. The water treatment plant still functions and you will not be noticing any deterioration in the quality of your pure mountain water. It is at this stage that the new plant must be planned and built, not when the old plant fails. It is called being responsible stewards of public assets.

It is the same for the runway. Planes still can land and take off. Let’s not wait until they can’t.

And so, when the grants were announced Administration prepared the applications and submitted them. In fact, much of Chetwynd’s success in obtaining grants lies in pre-preparation, early submission, and a solid working relationship with senior governments. Place this to the credit of a Council and Management that understands the importance of taking care of your tax dollars.

Early last week I received a call from our MLA Mike Bernier giving me a heads up on an announcement he would be making in Chetwynd on the government response to two grant applications: the water treatment plant and the airport runway.

Here are the figures. Water treatment plant: budgeted at $3.1 million; grant: $2.6 million leaving $0.5 million to be raised from other sources. Airport runway: budgeted at $1.7 million; grant: $1.3 million leaving $0.4 million to be raised from other sources such as internal reserves, Peace River Agreement funds, and other potential grants. And Council and Management have these other sources well in hand.

This means that the District of Chetwynd will have received almost $7 million in government grants during 2017 and 2016. (In addition to the government grants, over the last two years the District of Chetwynd has received another $1.2 million in grants from other sources not including Peace River Agreement funding or grants received for flood restoration.)

Clearly, Council and Administration are actively pursuing funding sources for major projects that are making our home town more and more liveable and attractive. It means that your local government is managing your tax dollars with your best interests in mind. It means that your local government is being responsible with the assets you have deposited in its trust.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor