Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Council approves application for lucrative public transportation grant

For the Lakeland Regional.

City council is hoping to get two new buses for a major discount, thanks to a pair of grants.
File photo
 Cold Lake is expecting to get two new buses thanks to a series of government grants that the city is able to combine together.

City council approved a plan put forward at its regular meeting on July 12 to apply for a grant and then, in a feat of bureaucratic gymnastics, utilize the first grant to apply for the other.

Chief Administration Officer Kevin Nagoya explained that the Alberta Government was so impressed with Cold Lake's public transportation program that they decided to open up a grant for the city in spite of the transit system not even being in operation for a year, which is usually a requirement.

The Public Transportation Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) is a federal-provincial partnership where the federal government provides $347 million between 2016-2019. Of that chunk, the city is eligible to apply for up to $174,000.

“The City of Cold Lake gets an automatic allocation. We get that funding and we get to choose what to put it towards,” noted Nagoya. “We're not even a full year into the transit program, but the government knows how many users we have, so the government preempted and looked at our numbers and decided we should be a part of the pot.”

This is the first time that the city has been eligible for PTIF funding. The province doesn't place a lot of restrictions on the usage of the money, so Nagoya has suggested that the city use the $174,000 to top up the city's contributions to its application for the GreenTRIP fund.

The GreenTRIP fund is a provincial initiative for funding municipal projects intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The province covers two-thirds of the costs of a project and the municipality covers the other third.

By using the funding from the PTIF to cover the city's third of the costs of two new buses, Nagoya estimated that Cold Lake would be able to purchase two new lowfloor, wheelchair accessible buses worth $1 million for a mere $160,000. Council also could opt to purchase two smaller buses worth $700,000, in which the city would end up contributing $64,000.

“We're talking between six per cent to 16 per cent contribution. Six to 16 cents on the dollar is pretty good payback,” laughed Nagoya. “How can you say no to a program like that?”

In addition to the two new buses, the city is also planning to build additional bus shelters, establish a GPS-based real-time online bus schedule and construct a new transit maintenance and storage facility.

The city is expecting to have the PTIF application in by July 29, and the application for GreenTRIP funding will be submitted by July 31.

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