North Cowichan will be making a decision on how to put their latest grant from the province to use.
They’re receiving $7.686 million dollars from the Growing Communities grant program. It’s an effort from the province to help local governments with inflationary cost increases in their infrastructure projects.
As of now, the proposal before council is that $4.8 million will go to pay down the debt from the Crofton Fire Hall; just under $2 million will go to the automated curbside collection costs; and the rest will go to the affordable housing reserve.
If approved, the municipality projects the funding will create decreases from the originally projected tax rates over the next few years.
The Crofton Firehall project was authorized to borrow up to $4.8 million through an alternate approval process last year, this funding would erase that debt along with any interest costs over the next two decades. The municipality projects this decision would 0.3% decrease in taxes for 2023, and a 1.09% decrease for 2024, with more savings throughout the next 20 years.
As for the Curbside Automation capital costs, $1.984 million would be taken off of the municipality’s efforts to replace its garbage collection system with automated vehicles and bins. This allocation of funding is projected to take $30 per year off of every home that uses the system – a reduction from $183 to $153 per year.
The last $902 thousand would be allocated for affordable housing. That would start with $432 thousand going to the affordable housing project on Sherman Road, which would cover about half of the estimated building permit fee and development costs for the project. The last $470 thousand would go to the affordable housing reserve, for similar projects that request funding from the municipality.
In total, this scenario would reduce this year’s tax increase to 4.53% and drop next year’s projected increase from 6.01% to 4.92%.
They’ll decide if that is the right way to allocate the funding in a council vote in the meeting on Wednesday. Alternatively, council can look at other options, but the decisions will need to be made soon as this year’s tax rate must be adopted by May 15th.
The meeting starts at 4pm in council chambers, but can also be viewed electronically on the North Cowichan website.