After some deliberation, Bayham council chose Vienna Community Park improvements as the target for a grant application for funding under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI) program.
The project would enhance Vienna Community Park with the potential for multi-use pathways, a basketball court, and a 20’ by 30’ pavilion. The estimated cost for the improvements is $75,000 to $150,000, depending on construction costs.
The CHCI program is providing up to $31-million in existing federal funding to support communities as they develop new ways to respond to the immediate needs arising from COVID-19.
Some eligible projects could include adapting crosswalks and access to public transport to allow for safe physical distancing, creation of community gardens, art installations and free wireless Internet in targeted public spaces.
In a virtual council meeting on Thursday, March 4, councillors were presented with four eligible projects from staff including a Port Burwell beach walkway for $30,000; a Richmond Community Park pavilion for $35,000 to $75,000; Vienna Community Park improvements; and Vienna sidewalk replacement for $90,000 to $100,000.
Estimated project costs were provided by Public Works Manager Steve Adams. The CHCI provides between $5,000 to $250,000 for eligible projects.
Councillor Val Donnell said deciding which project to nominate would be a tough choice, and asked for more information on the Vienna Community Park improvements.
Newly hired Chief Administrative Officer Thomas Thayer responded that the park currently has a playground and soccer pitch.
“Some multi-use pathways, the potential for a basketball court, the potential for a pavilion, and then some greenery, possibly a small parking lot and some benches would fit the mandate for the Healthy Communities Initiative,” said Mr. Thayer.
Cr. Susan Chilcott asked for more details on the multi-use pathway. Mr. Thayer described it as a “more heavy duty version of a sidewalk,” for walking, biking, and rollerblading.
Cr. Susan Chilcott asked whether projects would be fully funded through the program, or if the municipality is required to match funds.
Mr. Thayer confirmed that eligible projects are entirely funded by the federal government, but there are some costs associated with projects that may be ineligible.
“The only one that I can foresee being ineligible with respect to any of the four projects would be the Vienna Community Park Project, because there is an open road allowance that runs north to south along the east side of the Vienna Community Centre,” said Mr. Thayer.
There may be a requirement to close that official road allowance, he said, and legal fees aren’t an eligible cost under the CHCI.
Mayor Ed Ketchabaw asked, “Without design, is there enough there to meet the criteria for the application for the March 9 application deadline to have a proposed budget for these any particular project in place?”
Mr. Thayer responded that the one project he has some concern with is the Vienna Community Park improvements because of its scope.
“The other three are a little bit smaller in overall scope and being a walkway or a pavilion or essentially sidewalk replacement of current assets,” said Mr. Thayer. Another consideration is that the Vienna sidewalk replacement is the only project that does not expand on current municipal assets, he said.
Deputy Mayor Weisler said that after listening to some of the deliberation from council, that she was leaning towards the Vienna Community Park Improvements. “With the cost projections and what it would offer the community, I think that would be the best bang for your buck.”
She put this forward as a motion, which was seconded by Cr. Chilcott. A second round of applications for the CHCI program will open in May 2021.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express