Municipalities across B.C. are still trying to understand the provincial promise of $1 billion in one-time grants for urban infrastructure like parks and pipes.
Premier David Eby announced Friday (Feb. 10) that 188 municipalities and regional districts would receive the grants by March 31.
The Union of British Columbia Municipalities voiced praise, but individual municipalities are still learning details.
“I checked with staff who handle grants and they say they do not yet know how much Kelowna is getting or what it might be used for,” said Tom Wilson, media relations manager with the City of Kelowna, in an emailed statement to Black Press Media.
“They suggest checking back in a month or two, and we should have a clearer idea of what this might mean for Kelowna.”
The Okanagan community is the name-sake and heart of Canada’s fastest growing census metropolitan area, according to Statistics Canada. Covering Kelowna and other communities in the Central Okanagan, the region’s population grew to 222,162 in 2021, an increase of 14 per cent from 2016. Population growth has put pressure on existing municipal infrastructure in the region, which has also seen rising homelessness among other concerns.
Sidney chief administrative officer Randy Humble struck the same note. He said the provincial announcement is good news for the community of just under 12,000, which has “many existing and emerging demands” for its limited funding.
“At this time, it is too soon to say how the funding will be invested in our community, but we look forward to learning more details, including the amount of funding that will be distributed to the Town of Sidney and any parameters associated with the grant.”
While not growing as fast as Kelowna, that community is also facing the pressures of population growth, while preparing for climate change thanks to its seaside location on the Saanich Peninsula.
Black Press Media also reached to the City of Vancouver and City of Kamloops for reaction to the announcement.
Communities will be able to use the grants to build affordable housing infrastructure and amenities to prepare for future growth, Eby said earlier this month.
Municipalities don’t have to apply for the grants as the province use a population-based formula that looks at population growth between 2016 and 2021 to hand out the money, with the smallest grant amount being $500,000.
The province is also counting on municipalities to have shovel-ready projects.