Woodstock council is ready to move ahead with a long-waited town square project under the right financial situation. Plans for a significant upgrade of Kierstead Court in the heart of the downtown date back to 2018, but reaching a financial agreement with other levels of government proved elusive and frustrating.
Woodstock CAO Andrew Garnett updated council on May 24 on the long-delayed Town Square upgrade project.
He said his comments follow recent conversations with Eric Dube of the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) about the cost-sharing project.
"This is our third kick of the can, if you will, to try to get funding," Garnett said.
He called this attempt the "least attractive," noting RDC is offering only 40 per cent.
Garnett said negotiations remain ongoing, noting the process began with a 50-50 split, and he hasn't given up returning to that formula.
He said the original cost to the town was $660,000. After recalculating it, the price should not change significantly.
"The money is there to go ahead with the project," he said.
Coun. Tina Jones noted part of the work involves water and sewer, suggesting those costs should be from the utility budget.
She acknowledged it's hard to justify spending money on the square with the streets in such bad shape.
She said she supports the project but wants the same effort used to find paving funds.
"It's time we move ahead with this project," said Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson, noting it's essential for downtown development and has been in the works since 2018.
Mayor Art Slipp addressed the political side of the long-planned project.
He stressed the town's "frustration" with finding out where the project stood in other levels of government's funding queues.
"We need this project to come in at 50-50 per cent," he said.
The town passed the motion to go ahead with the project contingent on a 50-50 funding split.
The mayor suggested it's time to pressure the area's political representatives to support the project.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun