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Grant could cover cost of new Crofton fire hall, and more

North Cowichan staff have a number of recommendations for provincial funding
The $4.8-million cost of replacing the aging Crofton fire hall could be covered by the $7.68 million infrastructure grant North Cowichan has received from the province, staff suggests. (Citizen file photo)

The costs of the new Crofton fire hall could be covered, and North Cowichan residents could see a significant cut in plans to increase garbage fees this year, if staff recommendations on how the municipality could use the almost $7.7 million it is receiving from the province’s Growing Communities Fund are followed.

The province announced last week that local governments in the Cowichan Valley would receive almost $21 million, with North Cowichan getting $7.68 million, to be used on infrastructure projects and amenities; including, roads, transit, water and electrical systems, as well as community centres, parks and social services.

Although detailed information on the allowable uses of the funds has not yet been received from the province, the financial staff at North Cowichan have already sharpened their pencils and made a number of recommendations for council to consider that are in a report which is on council’s agenda for its meeting on March 15.


Chief financial officer Talitha Soldera said the budget for 2023 includes borrowing up to $4.8 million to replace the aging Crofton fire hall, as well as $97,200 in expected interest costs for the project for the year.

“Debt servicing costs beginning in 2024 and over the next 20 years (for the new fire hall) total $390,700,” she said.

“Therefore, using the grant funding for the fire hall results in a 0.3 per cent tax reduction for 2023 and a 1.09 per cent reduction for 2024, with the savings carrying on for the next 20 years.”

Soldera also said earmarking $1,984,000 of the GCF towards the cost of transitioning North Cowichan to automated curbside garbage collection would save each household in the municipality $30 a year.

“Included in the calculations for establishing the automated curbside collection service is the cost of bins, estimated at $981,000, and trucks, estimated at a net cost of $2,203,000 after the contribution from the Climate Action and Energy Plan reserve fund,” she said.

“The garbage truck reserve fund has $1.2 million to put towards these expenditures, leaving $1,984,000 to be funded by the ratepayers. Using the grant funding to cover the one-time costs allows for a reduction in the annual user fee to $153, saving each household $30 per year.”


Soldera is also recommending that $902,000 of the grant funding be used for affordable housing initiatives.

“In June, 2022, council resolved to invite the Community Land Trust to submit a grant-in-aid application for up to $432,000 for the affordable housing project on Sherman Road, and to commit $75,000 from the Affordable Housing Fund to the project,” she said.

“The grant-in-aid amount represents approximately half of the estimated building permit fee and development cost charges for the project. The final dollar value is subject to council’s approval; however, based on the resolution, $432,000 could be saved if the Growing Communities funding was used to support this project rather than using a contribution from taxes or other reserves.”

North Cowichan donated 2.1 acres of land to the project in 2017. It is being built by the Community Land Trust and is designed for 95 dwellings comprised of townhouses and apartment units.

Soldera said staff recommend that the remaining funding of $470,000 be placed in North Cowichan’s Affordable Housing Reserve to fund future affordable housing projects.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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