Grant denied for Columbia-Washington project
Rossland’s grant application for $8.5 million to upgrade underground infrastructure and to improve both traffic flow and the pedestrian experience on Columbia Ave. and Washington St. has been denied, Mayor Greg Granstrom reported to council on Monday evening.
“We found out Friday afternoon,” Granstrom said. “Now we’ll work with the Ministry [of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI)] to see where we’re at. We have to come up with another plan.”
The announcement was met by gasps from council. The city had hoped a good portion of the project’s expected costs to Rossland taxpayers—some $3.6 million for phase one Columbia Ave. upgrades and $3.5 million for phase two Washington St. upgrades—would be offset by the grant. The total cost of the project also includes $1.4 million in Columbia Ave. upgrades that will be covered by MOTI.
Coun. Jill Spearn captured the mood of council: “We are, I would say, devastated. We’ve been planning with the positive perspective of gleaning some of those monies. This will turn the whole project upside down.”
When pressed for an explanation, the mayor responded the “no explanation was given” by the granting authorities.
CAO Victor Kumar offered the councillors some degree of explanation, but only in camera. “I will tell you how it goes,” he said.
The previous council used an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to approve borrowing up to $6 million in a low interest loan to fund the project, but until now there had been hope that grants would make such a large debt and taxpayer burden unnecessary.
Granstrom concluded, “This is very disappointing, but it doesn’t mean it all dies. We just have to move in another direction for a while.”