Russell council cautious on recreation aid funding request

“I think we should limit ourselves to $50 million,” said Councillor Jamie Laurin during Monday’s council session, regarding a suggestion in an administration report to apply for $52.7 million in funding aid.

Grants Ontario is taking applications from September until midnight November 12 for the next phase of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICI) for community recreation and cultural projects. Final decision on successful applications will be made by early 2020.

More than $720 million will be available through the program over the next 10 years to help finance approved projects. The maximum grant possible for renovating an existing facility is $5 million, while a new multi-use project could be eligible for up to a maximum of $50 million in funding aid.

Last month council received a consultant’s report on the proposed Russell recreation complex project. Cost projections ranged from $33.7 million to $52.7 million, depending on which option the municipality chooses as most feasible and affordable. 

Council accepted Laurin’s argument against trying for a grant that would pay the entire cost of the “Cadillac version” of the project. Even though the ICI guidelines allow for exceptions to the $50 million maximum for multi-use projects, Laurin said it would be improve the township’s chance of a successful application if it stuck with the maximum limit for funding aid.

Administration will present council with an updated report on an ICI funding application plan for the recreation complex at the September 15 council session.

Council still wants administration and the consultants to continue planning work based on all the options presented in the report, including preparing a detailed communications plan to explain to all residents the options are available for a multi-use recreation complex that would complement the new Sports Dome and replace the Embrun and Russell arenas.