With major grant application rejected, future of project is unclear
The province has rejected the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake's bid for funding for the new St. Davids pool, forcing the municipality to scramble and figure out what its next steps will be for the $5-million project.
The town submitted an application for funding the outdoor pool to the province in November 2019 under the Community, Culture and Recreation funding stream of the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The town had sought $4.7 million from the joint federal-provincial program, which provides a maximum of $5 million for an individual project.
A report to council Monday included the following notification from the director of intergovernmental policy for the Ministry of Infrastructure:
“Following an evidence-based provincial review process, your project, St. Davids Pool Reconstruction, was not nominated for federal review and approval. The intake of this funding stream was highly competitive, and total demand reached upwards of $10 billion against total available joint funding (federal-provincial-applicant) of nearly $1 billion.”
The ministry said projects that received funding “were those that most closely aligned with the provincial assessment criteria and federal requirements,” such as community need, community support, lack of similar services, accessibility, operational/financial capacity, value for money, asset management planning, whether projects were open to the public and efficiencies through joint projects.
The pool reconstruction project’s initial cost of $2.5 million to $3 million ballooned to $5 million after the facility was expanded to six lanes from the original four, solar panels were included on the rooftop and other internal amenities were added, Kevin Turcotte, the town’s manager of parks and recreation, noted last February.
The St. Davids pool fundraising committee, formed by the town earlier this year, has been holding off from meeting until there was a decision on the grant application.
“The intent of holding off on the first meeting was to identify what the fundraising target would be if we were successful” in getting the grant, the report to council said.
“As this wasn’t our ideal outcome, town staff will proceed in setting up the first meeting of the St. Davids Pool Fundraising Committee to discuss the fundraising campaign’s goals and target. Town staff will also look at other granting programs that this project might be eligible for in the future.”
The report said town staff “will be recommending a business case for consideration through the 2021 capital budget process for council approval.”
The town anticipates opening the St. Davids Pool in 2021, “pending any COVID constraints (if applicable) or major mechanical/structural problems.”
The aging pool was not opened this summer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If there are mechanical/structural problems town staff would request funding through a staff report to council.”