Town of Hay River council wants to revitalize the downtown, but hopes Canada will foot most of the bill.
Councillors supported a motion that will see an increase of capital spending provided the municipality is able to get support from the federal government July 20. They agreed to set aside $395,000 in the town’s 10-year capital plan with the condition that it is able to get 75 per cent of the project cost covered by Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency’s (CANNOR) Community Revitalization Program.
Glenn Smith, senior administrative officer explained that as the funding has become recently available, senior staff have identified two projects including “greening and beautifying” two main areas in the downtown core for $185,000, plus a $210,000 increase to the Capital Plan for the Bob McMeekin Chamber Park Revitalization Project.
If successful, the downtown could see more ornamental trees and some minor landscaping on Capital Drive as well as about 254 trees, shrubbery, and minor landscaping at the Community Centre lawn.
The town is also looking at removing the traffic lights at the intersection of Gagnier Road and Woodland Drive near the Ptarmigan Inn be replaced with a crosswalk with digital signage.
“We have had continued maintenance issues with those lights and they are quite old now,” Smith said. “There are options that exist and what we are suggesting is the removal and installation of an electronic digital crosswalk. Since they were installed there have been changes to that downtown area where traffic flows through the Source area.
Other digital signage is expected to be part of the project for the Courtoreille Street and Woodland Drive crosswalk and accessibility upgrades have been identified such as Woodland Drive sidewalk improvements and replacements of older garbage cans and benches in the central core.
The McMeekin Park multi-year project would include enhancements and improvements to the park like the paving of the parking area, landscaping and redesigning of the grounds and a replacement of the Welcome to Hay River sign.
“These dollars would help us finish that multi-year project,” Smith said.
The town was expected to meet a July 23 deadline to apply for the federal funding
Barbara Abramchuk, communications advisor with CANNOR said in a July 23 email that the fund had been launched only a month earlier and is intended to help Canadians hard-hit by the economic impact of the pandemic and to help local economies rebound.
She said that CanNor is providing $15.4 million over two years for the NWT communities to apply.
”The fund may support municipalities and Indigenous governments as well not-for-profit organizations and other community groups,” she said.
Abramchuk would not comment on the specific application by the town and so could not say when there might be a confirmation of financial support.
“Applications will be accepted through a continuous intake process; however, priority will be given to completed applications received by July 23, 2021. Proposals received after this date will be considered until the allocated funding is fully distributed.”
Some elected members had some reservations about the rush of the funding opportunities as council was not able to have the proposal vetted by the town’s finance committee.
“It was last minute funding that had dollars that we were looking for,” said Mayor Kandis Jameson. “One of my concerns is that it did not come through finance committee and I wanted to make sure everybody comfortable with this decision and how it affects our capital budget.”