By Chad Ingram
The Township ofAlgonquin Highlands will apply for a grant through the Investing inCanada’s Infrastructure Program that would cover more than $3 million of a nearly $4.5-million project at the Dorset Tower.
Townshipcouncillors while expressing surprise at the size of the price tag forthe project agreed during their Nov. 7 meeting that the township wouldmake the funding application.
The project would entail $1.1 millionworth of roads work including the widening and repaving of roadsditching the installation of culverts as well as the addition of apedestrian walking lane. An expansion of three parking areas at the site would grow the property’s parking capacity from about 75 vehicles to180 and cost just more than $700000. Nearly $1.3 million of landscaping work would include pedestrian walkways from the parking lot to pointsof interest upgrading “peek a boo rock” to include landscaped steps and a stone viewing platform the installation of an accessible viewingplatforms the creation of eating areas including a picnic pavilion andthe construction of flowerbeds. Work on the tower itself would totalmore than $1.3 million and include repainting the structure newlighting repairs and upgrades included in an engineer’s reportreplacement of the tower’s copula and the construction of a washroombuilding.
The project’s total estimated price tag is $4.42 million$3.09 million of which would come from the grant if the application issuccessful leaving the township to fund about $1.3 million. The ICIPuses a combination of federal and provincial funds.
The projectwould be completed during a seven-year span from 2021 to 2027 meaningan annual financial contribution from the township of approximately$190000. However as a report from parks rec and trails manager ChrisCard indicated the use of $170000 worth of reserves for the tower would bring that annual contribution down to about $165000 per year. A continued contribution of $60000 annually to the reserve from thecurrent tax levy would leave the annual contribution at about $105000for each of the seven years. The details of financing would be finalized should the township be successful with the grant and council voted tomove forward.
Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen who said she was shockedby the prices said she struggled with the idea of spending that amountof money on a recreational project when then the township had otherpressing needs such as roads work but noted the opportunity was a bigone that may not come again.
Mayor Carol Moffatt noted that this particular stream of the funding program is for recreational projects specifically.
“This funding is for recreation it’s not for fire trucks or roads” Moffattsaid adding she too was shocked by some of the amounts.
“I thinkthat all of this work is going to have to be done eventually” saidCouncillor Julia Shortreed adding the township might as well takeadvantage of a grant opportunity.
“This grant program is really good in that it is spread out over a number of years” said interim treasurer Tammy McKelvey.
The deadline for the funding application was Nov. 12.