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Lake Country council adds projects in budget talks; drops renovation at Winfield Arena

As the budget deliberations continue, over $1.4 million in projects carried over from 2015

The District of Lake Country has added over $1.4 million in capital projects to its list of plans for 2016 as budget discussions in Lake Country continued last week.

Among the projects that will receive funding this year is work on the Winfield Seniors Centre, a new water main for the Oceola Road up to Okanagan Centre Road East and the potential for the creation of new child care spaces to be run by Okanagan Boys and Girls Club. However a $1 million project at the Winfield Arena has had to be shelved.

The district also allocated about $150,000 for work on the Okanagan corridor as plans move forward to the design phase of the corridor.

The money, a combination of taxation and money carried forward from the 2015 budget is being used as the district maps properties along the corridor.

"There are a lot of individual properties that border on the corridor and some of them that hook across the corridor," said Baker. "We have to get those lots into the system as part of the design and development plans. We have to know where the property lines are and what is the surplus part of the the original purchase. If there are surplus lands that's where we may want to put some amenities or they could be surplus lands that could be revenue generating for us."

The district still owes $2.6 million to Kelowna for its portion of the corridor purchase but that money is not addressed in the current Lake Country budget. The money was given to Lake Country interest free for three years and Baker said while there is no timeline on re-paying it to Kelowna, they would like to pay it back before the interest kicks in.

Elsewhere in the budget, the district will put forward a joint application to the Ministry of Children and Family Development in partnership with the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club that could create more child care spaces in Lake Country. The $625,000 project would be funded from a $500,000 grant from the province with the district putting in $125,000. However if the grant application is unsuccessful, the project would not go ahead.

If successful the child care spaces will likely not be at the current boys and girls club but instead be located in other Lake Country-owned facilities.

The water main project for Oceola Road and Okanagan Centre Road East is needed for the new Turtle Bay Crossing development and the developer has agreed to contribute $600,000 toward the completion of the $2.15 million project, slated to be completed over the next two years.

Another project that should see completion this year is an automatic door at the Winfield Seniors Centre, a project with a $10,000 price tag. It's a new project being funded by money carried forward from last year's budget.

Lake Country council will still get another look at the budget document and five year capital plan as they will be asked to create the budget bylaw at an upcoming meeting, the date of which has not been set.

Baker said the district has been able to move forward with several projects thanks to the start of the funding for the Transportation for Tomorrow plan, which will ask residents for a $125 parcel tax this year, while property taxes are still sitting at a zero per cent increase.

"A lot of these projects are coming out of Transportation of Tomorrow plans," said Baker. "We know how we are financing that and we can get a start on those projects and go after grants that become available. Anybody that knows our history knows we have this huge infrastructure deficit. We have the resources to pay for it but we can't pay for it all at once."

Transportation for Tomorrow is a 20-year funding plan that council approved late last year to deal with its aging roads.

Other projects that will take place in 2016 include $1.8 million on Safe Routes to Schools projects on Woodsdale Road, Greenhow Pathway, Sherman Pathway and Bottom Wood Lake Road. Work is also slated to take place on Robinson Road from Pretty to Okanagan Centre as well as on Carr's Landing Road.

A $1 million project to upgrade the Winfield Arena has had to be removed from the capital plan as the district was not awarded a $500,000 grant that would have paid half the bill.

The district's 2016 capital and operational budget is $7.272 million document