This year, the City of Rossland didn’t receive the biggest Christmas gift it had been hoping for: the $8 million in grants it applied for towards the Columbia-Washington project. The money, which would have covered the extent of the renewal project as it was laid out, would have come from federal grants.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Mayor Greg Granstrom spoke with disappointment of the news that he and city staff found out about on Friday.
“The government has let us know that the grant applications for Columbia-Washington have been turned down,” Granstrom said. “So what we will have to do now is work with ministry to see where we’re at.”
Granstrom said they don’t have a date set yet to talk with the Ministry of Transportation, which will have to commit its funds by the end of January.
“We have to come up with another plan,” the mayor added.
Coun. Jill Spearn said that the news was devastating, given that the city had been planning with the hopes of getting some sort of funding.
“This will turn this whole project upside down,” she said.
Spearn wondered if there was any rationale behind the decision given in the letter.
The mayor shook his head.
“There was no real statement in the letter,” Granstrom said. “There’s really no explanation. It’s very disappointing, but it doesn’t mean that it all dies. We just have to move in another direction for a while.”
The city and engineering firm ISL placed many items into the grant proposal that should have helped the project along.
Things like bump-outs and wider sidewalks as traffic calming measures, parallel parking on the main north block of Columbia and a large gas-fuelled fireplace that would warm those walking downtown.
The project originally began with the Ministry of Transportation wanting to repave Columbia, which is also part of Highway 3B.
The city saw an opportunity to replace aging infrastructure under Columbia and Washington at a time when the roads would need to be dug up anyway.
The need for the pipes to be replaced has long been known, with leaks happening due to the degenerating state of some that are as old as 105 years. In most cases it is the lead hinges that fail and cause the pipes to leak.
This in turn causes water to seep through the concrete or into properties.
Granstrom last week said the pipes need to be replaced regardless of the grants and council has heard ISL and city staff talk about the dangers of not fixing them.
Fixing them now would be a preventative measure, since the cost of fixing a burst pipe after the streets have been paved would be much more.
Without the grants, the project will likely be scaled down to a more modest renewal project.