The Regional District of Nanaimo has budgeted $7.5 million to spend on projects using Community Works Funds this year.
Community Works Funds are funnelled to the regional district via the federal Gas Tax Agreement, with an annual allocation to each electoral area to use toward public infrastructure projects. The current agreement with the federal government ends in 2024.
For 2022, Electoral Area B will receive $186,947 of the $1.8 million the RDN will receive from the federal government. Funds are allocated based on population. Nearly $290,000 in Community Works Funds has been budgeted for two projects in Area B: phase 2 of the Village Way Path – for signage and landscaping – and Huxley Community Park skatepark and parking construction. That leaves the electoral area a balance of $382,903.
Use of Community Works Funds has its limits and cannot be used to purchase land, among other uses. The funds can go toward infrastructure projects such as local roads and active transportation; drinking water; wastewater; community energy systems; public transit; solid waste; sport, recreation, cultural and tourism infrastructure and capacity building projects.
A number of projects in Area B have been paid for in part with Community Works Funds. Most recently, in February, the RDN board approved $262,900 to top up the budget for the final phase of the Huxley Community Park master plan. Since 2014, when the current agreement came into force, funds for Area B have gone to the Village Path, Community Hall, Gabriola Community Bus Foundation, the Commons, GIRO, Gabriola Senior Citizens Association, the museum, the golf club and Huxley and Rollo McClay community parks.
Every year the RDN also allocates $50,000 for cross-area projects. Next year will mark the final payment under the agreement. An RDN staff report recommends that all funds be used up or allocated to projects by early 2024.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder