Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

The proposed budget increase to the Huxley redevelopment has passed.

The Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors passed the proposal to increase the construction budget from $773,700 to $1,036,600, an increase of $262,900, using Electoral Area B Community Works funding.

Prior to the vote on Feb. 22, Electoral Area B Director Vanessa Craig said she recently visited the site with parks staff to review the project, the final phase of the master plan for the 2-acre Huxley Community Park.

“I think it’s worthwhile moving ahead with these aspects, which were originally to be considered a part of the project but were set aside,” said Craig.

The skatepark portion of the Huxley project initially included a number of items that were removed via post-tender negotiations with the only bidder on the project, Radius Contracting, whose bid came in at $941,610. Removal of those items brought it into the original budget of $773,700.

“The amounts for some things seem expensive,” Craig continued at the meeting; “but they’re commercial grade things, not residential grade. So sometimes there seems to be a bit of sticker shock, but I think it will really enhance the project and the park is looking really great.”

The additional $262,900, which includes a 10 per cent contingency, will go toward sports court seating, landscape planting, asphalt paving of the parking lot entrance, two eight-foot-long benches, two nine-foot by 12-foot pergolas and a five-foot high chain link perimeter fence.

Community Works Funds are funnelled to the Regional District of Nanaimo via the federal Gas Tax Agreement, with an annual allocation to each electoral area to use toward public infrastructure projects. RDN staff did not provide details for a request on how much remains in the Area B Community Works Fund following the approval of funds for the skatepark, saying a status report on funds will be presented to the board in March. A June 2021 staff report projected the closing balance on Dec. 31, 2021 to be $266,025. The 2022 allocation is not clear at this time. Community Works funds have recently been used for the Gabriola Village Way Trail, Phase 2 upgrades to Huxley Community Park and to support consultation fees to plan the Gabriola Cycle Route to connect the ferry terminal and Village Way Trail. A number of infrastructure projects in the RDN have seen their budgets grow in the last year, including other recreation infrastructure.

Leanne Salter, director for Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) put forward a notice of motion at the Feb. 22 board meeting “that the RDN review funding for recreational facilities going forward.” That motion was to have been on the agenda for the March 8 board meeting.

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