Muni Morsels: no multiuse path construction this summer and asking for a Cove Bay loan

The following are briefs from the July 8 regular council meeting:

The multiuse path not taken: Phase one of the cross-island multiuse path won’t be coming to Bowen this summer. BIM had been set to build the short but technically difficult phase one of the path for a cost of nearly $600,000 this June (it was the area around Charlie’s Lane on Grafton Road). However, due to feasibility concerns and potential cost overruns that council heard about in a closed meeting, BIM contractor Urban Systems will be reviewing and revising the trail designs. They are to report back to council in the fall. 

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Council said through resolution that it is still committed to a multiuse pathway across Bowen. Back in May, BIM planner Emma Chow described the pathway as the “spine” of Bowen’s 20-year transportation plan. 

Water the options: Council passed first second and third readings of a loan authorisation bylaw for the Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant. Council heard that the project requires a $2,533,000 loan and elector approval to do the borrowing. BIM is pursuing an alternative approval process, which means if 10 per cent of eligible voters or more submit response forms in opposition to the loan, then there would be a referendum to ask the electorate if they'll allow the municipality to take on the debt. Otherwise the borrowing goes ahead. 

A staff report from chief financial officer Raj Hayre to council noted that the budget for this project didn’t initially need elector approval as the annual debt servicing costs didn’t exceed five per cent of the previous year’s annual revenue. Rising costs and a phased Grafton Lakes development (which is anticipated to bring in $1 million for the project but over 20 years) pushed the project over budget (despite a $4 million federal grant). 

The staff report suggests that the loan be repayed through Cove Bay Water System user rates. 

Hayre estimated a $214 per year per connection rise in cove user rates. 

Council heard that the designs for the plant are 95 per cent complete and nearly ready to go to tender, but financing needs to be in place before that happens. 

What about a party for Grants?:Council voted unanimously to contribute $1,500 to the Bowen Island Community Foundation’s neighbourhood grants program, which is proposed to launch in 2020. The program would allow groups of two or more people to apply for grants of up to $500 for small activities (building bird houses, throwing a neighbourhood welcome party, hosting storytelling events). Unlike most of the foundation’s funding, applicants need not be a charitable organization. The idea is that these small, accessible projects can build connections and community. The Bowen foundation is to match BIM’s contribution to the grant pot and the Vancouver Foundation is to provide $7,000 (some of that would go to administrative costs). 

ENSuing discussion: In discussions about emergency planning and water shortages, councillors discussed the necessity of islanders signing up for municipal alerts. There’s BowENS for text-based emergency messaging and there are also BIM email alerts. You can sign up for both at bowenislandmunicipality.ca.

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