Governments are not known for their quick decisions and speedy bureaucratic processes, so it was a surprise to the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association when, what they thought was a well-considered case for funding, was rejected with a swift no.
The application for $500,000 to the government’s Canada 150 Community Infrastructure fund was submitted in mid-June and on Friday, during a city media event at which funding for the Big Eddy water system was announced, the question was asked to Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks regarding its progress.
“We will not be getting any money,” he said.
With a federal election rumoured to be called as soon as this weekend, some are speculating the process was fast-tracked. The federal government can’t make funding announcements after the election is officially announced. Announcements for the Canada 150 program were anticipated for later in August and September.
Columbia Valley Skateboard Association president Karl Jost said he hadn’t expected the news so soon. They understood they had put forward a strong package with a fully budgeted design proposal, and had expected to field supplementary questions in August.
“We were told we would have to be available for a phone call to talk about the project with the grant guys but we never even got to that point,” Jost said. “We thought we wouldn’t be finding out until September.
He is hoping for a further explanation following the verbal announcement today, for which he wasn’t present.
“I would be curious to know their side why we didn’t get any funding.”
With $500,000 in matching funding committed from the Columbia Basin Trust and the Resort Municipality Initiative, Jost says the CVSA application was strong.
“We looked really good for this funding,” he said. “We fit the criteria, we were shovel ready and had other funders able to match.
“We’re definitely confused as to why we didn’t get any funding. We were sitting perfectly and had the city endorsement.”
City council endorsed the skatepark project for the Canada 150 grant earlier this year. The skatepark association has spent years raising funds to pay for design work, geotechnical work, studies and other engineering to get the plan finalized. They lobbied city hall for a location for the park from 2010 until the fall of 2014, when the agreement with the city to use the Kovach Park location was finalized.
If they had been approved, the skatepark upgrade would have started construction in spring and have been ready to go in the summer 2016. Now it seems likely to be pushed back a few years, but Jost is determined to remain positive.
“It is strange, but I guess the best way to say it is there is no point dwelling on it,” he said. “I would rather move forward and get this project done.
“Unless there is someone out there that has a million bucks they want to give us.”