Officials need to decide whether they want to raise taxes before chasing down matching grants, warns a District of Squamish councillor.
On Tuesday (Oct. 15), municipal staff presented Squamish centennial projects to Committee of the Whole that target the federal government’s Heritage Canada Grant. Worth up to $500,000, the district would have to match any funds secured and construction would begin in 2014, the year of the 100th anniversary of the town’s renaming.
“We would eventually have two years to complete it,” said Rod MacLeod, the district’s director of engineering.
The Squamish 2014 Project Task Force combined two of six submissions to create the winning proposal to hunt down the grant. The Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association (BIA) and Formline Architecture plan to transform the municipality’s newly purchased downtown Mamquam Blind Channel waterfront lot. Drafts include an observation tower and carving house for Squamish Nation artists.
But before officials plow ahead, Coun. Ron Sander said council needs to collectively decide whether it wants to raise property taxes. Council has requested municipal staff produce a budget with a zero per cent tax increase, he noted.
Sander questioned whether the district would lose credibility with upper levels of government if it captured the grant only to hand it back.
Mayor Rob Kirkham said officials need to see more detailed plans before voting to apply for the grant.
“I’m not even sure what we are talking about,” he said regarding the vagueness of the draft.
Municipal staff will work with the BIA and Formline to hammer out a higher level of detail, MacLeod said.
“We have put placeholders in the budget,” he noted.