Administration will continue to explore current and supplemental funding sources for the Spray Park Shades Project.
Council requested that if by Dec. 1, 2021, no supplemental source has been found, up to $20,000 will be utilized from the Parks and Trails Major Reserve.
The budget allocated for this project is $40,000 and it is incorporated in the 5-year capital plan.
Administration anticipated $25,000 for the 2021 shade project to come from Harry Collinge High School’s Prom Legacy Committee. The Legacy Committee indicated their will to contribute to the project in 2020 but the contribution has not been confirmed and the committee has not reached an internal decision yet.
Administration has not found any other grants that the municipality would be eligible for at this time and for this project. Council discussed postponing or carrying the project to 2022 to allow for administration to secure funds and order materials.
Hans van Klaveren, Hinton’s manager of parks, recreation, and culture, said it would take seven to eight weeks for materials to arrive from the time they are ordered. This means it is likely not feasible to get the shades installed in 2021.
Laura Howarth, acting CAO at the Aug. 24 council meeting, noted that if council chose to postpone the project and the capital budget doesn’t get approved until spring in 2022, the building season next year would again be lost. The intent would be to get the project in the queue with an approved budget to start tendering in the winter and building in the spring prior to summer when the shades would be utilized, she said.
“I really do think that little kids, older people, moms and dads, their health and welfare, we certainly do have to consider,” said Coun. JoAnn Race.
Mayor Marcel Michaels noted that if council postpones the project, they would risk not having it constructed prior to next summer.
“The intent is to make sure that this does move forward but with minimal risk to the organization and minimal cost,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek.
Any incomplete capital project at the end of the financial year will carry forward without any further action by council, noted Rob Osmond, Hinton’s project support of corporate services. Without direction to postpone or carry forward, administration is able to continue working on the project and start construction as soon as funding is available.
Due to the upcoming election and a possible changeover of council, council made a direction to continue seeking additional and current funding sources for construction in 2022.
“Ultimately, I look at a lot of the community groups, if they have cash sitting there for a project, they’ll either say yes or it will go to another really important project in the community. It’s not just wasted,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.
As soon as funding is secured, administration can go ahead with the next steps in making the shades project a reality.
Coun. Trevor Haas asked if council would have any input in the future design of the shades, given the images and examples included in the report. Michaels said there would not be another discussion around this project, but if council has an appetite to have any input they would need to put in a request for decision around the design at a future date.
Howarth said administration would explore what features would fit within the design standards. The option to have a shade structure commissioned locally has been brought forward by the legacy committee representative.
The original design of the Rotary Spray and Play Park included one shade structure in the style of a shelter or gazebo cover, but was removed due to budget restraints. Instead, trees were planted to provide shade but they did not mature to offer significant shade for visitors.
In 2017, an Alberta Prevents Cancer initiative resulted in a draft proposal that could finance, through supplied grant funding, the purchase of shade structures for the park.
Expenses for the installation and in-ground foundational work associated with the design were too complex and in the end, funding could not be secured. The shade installation project did not make the capital budget shortlist during the budget process in the following two years.
The Legacy Committee indicated their will to donate the remainder of their legacy fund in 2020 to the shades project, after discontinuing this group and closing its financial books.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice