The provincial government has chipped in $100,000 to help build the first part of the District of Kitimat’s long-standing and ambitious plan to develop a full scale park on the two Minette Bay lots it owns.
The money will be used for a fully accessible 800 metre loop trail and upgrades to an accompanying path once design work is completed and costs fully developed, something now on Kitimat council’s ‘to do’ list next year.
“To minimize environmental impact, some development work must be completed within specified timing windows,” explained DoK Chief Administrative Officer Warren Waycheshen in outlining next steps.
“Timing will be determined by the Kitimat council through the annual budget process. At present, I expect we may be doing some site work in 2018, but this will be a council decision.”
The money comes from the province’s rural dividend program, a creation of the former B.C. Liberal government meant to spur economic development in rural and remote areas, and specifically from a section of that program to help finance trail construction aimed at increasing tourism.
As it is, council has already transferred $102,000 from a specified reserve account for detailed design, environmental and archaeological studies and is contemplating an additional $696,000 construction budget which would also come from reserves for a total first phase park cost of $798,000.
But whether the province’s $100,000 grant will reduce the District’s own expenditure remains to be seen, said Waycheshen.
“We used a Class D cost estimate to apply for the grant, which assumes a contingency of 30 per cent. More accurate cost estimates will be developed during the detailed design phase which is underway,” he said.
”If there is no change to the total budget estimate, council may opt to reduce expenditures from reserve or to alter scope of the project.”
Additionally, in its park planning, the District has indicated it will pursue financial assistance from private as well as senior government sources.
Detailed park planning has been the subject of a comprehensive environmental and other studies including the condition of the grizzly habitat in the area.
A number of public meetings have also been held to gain public comment on what is being regarded as an opportunity for public access to- and use of- a park bordering Minette Bay.
Still unresolved, however, is full public road access to the location on that a road to the location that now crosses over private land holdings.
“We are continuing to work on road access,” said Waycheshen of discussions with the Haisla Trust Society, Rio Tinto and the Mills family.