RDN setting up grant applications to help keep Huxley ball rolling

Sounder News

Tuesday, June 9 2015

The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is seeking funds through a variety of government grants for Huxley Park, including funding from the new federal Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

Howard Houle, Regional Director for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy) said the intention of the board is to apply for $100,000 from the Canada 150 Program, which if approved would be matched by $100,000 from the RDN.

As Houle explained, “We have a parks reserve budget, so the RDN contribution would come from that. 

“If we do get this particular grant, the project must be completed by 2017.”

Houle added if any members of the public have letters to include with the grant application, email copies to him at Howard.Houle@rdn.bc.ca.

Over 30 letters have already been received in support of the performance area of Huxley Park. Also needed are letters of support for the tot lot playground area and the sport court/ball hockey boards being installed.

If funding is approved, the RDN intends to put the funds toward dasher board improvements on the Huxley sports court, create the proposed performance area of Huxley and use any remaining funds toward the tot lot/playground between the tennis courts and Folklife Village. As part of that tot lot/playground area, the RDN intends to build a safety fence around the tot lot itself and along the cliffs.

Houle said there is also a provincial grant the RDN is going after, thanks to matching funds being offered by the Gabriola Lions Club and the RDN. If the Community Spaces grant is approved, the Huxley Park budget will have an additional $60,000 to work with: $30,000 of that would come from the grant; $5,000 of it has been committed by the Gabriola Lions Club; and $5,000 has been committed by the RDN.

At the Gabriola Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee meeting this past week, Elaine McCulloch, RDN Parks Planner for Gabriola, said the staff time being put into the grant applications does mean the skatepark concept design is getting put on hold.

The RDN had budgeted $35,000 to have a concept design created for the Huxley Park skatepark, so that if and when a grant came available, it would have the plan available on the shelf.

Because both the federal and provincial grants came available for application before the design work was done, the choice was made to apply for the grants to be used for items in Huxley which are ready to go, such as the performance area, the ball hockey court and the playground.

Elaine said if the RDN is successful with the federal grant, “I would suggest we will have to park the concept design temporarily and focus on the construction of the other phase of Huxley - later this year we can bump up the concept design for the skatepark.”

She said if the RDN does not get the federal 150 grant, staff will return to work on the skatepark design to have it ready for the next grant cycle.

Houle stressed Electoral Area B got the green light from the RDN Board to go after the 150 grant as “the other electoral areas did not have shelf-ready plans.

“We’ve done the consultations and have a master plan for Huxley.”