With a big debt paid on time, Virden City Council has plans for infrastructure, aesthetics and recreation
A dozen local ratepayers attended a public hearing at Tundra Oil and Gas Place on May 10 for the presentation of the City of Virden’s 2022 financial plan.
After reviewing the capital projects completed over the past year, the Board. Tina Williams, Chair of the Planning and Finance Committee, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rhonda Stewart gave details on what is in the works for this year.
A balanced budget is proposed, with total municipal revenues of $12,643,555.23. This is an increase of $1,586,618.30 from 2021. The valuation increased by a meager 0.18%.
The City and HTFC Planning & Design of Winnipeg have completed the concept plan and design work for the downtown revitalization. The budget allocation for the first phase of the work is $150,000, which includes the preparation of construction and design documents for wayfinding signage, edging and parking protection on King Street and the streetscape. downtown, which includes site furniture. $25,000 will be invested in a window improvement grant program.
A grant was received from the federal Invest in Canada program for the construction of a new bridge on Seventh Avenue North, the cost of which is estimated at $1.8 million. Stantec, the engineering company, is currently working on an approval process with Transport Canada since Scallion Creek is a waterway. The work, for which the city will be responsible for $400,000, is expected to go out to tender in the summer and construction should be completed in the fall.
$12,000 was budgeted for office space renovations to accommodate additional administrative staff and reduce congestion in the civic center. However, it will not be an addition to the existing building.
“We bought the house next door when it was for sale,” CAO Stewart said. “We will use it for some of our employees like our new programmer and our summer staff.”
New washrooms will be built on the recreation grounds, and the budgeted amount of $75,000 will be offset by a grant from the Provincial Sustainable Community Development Fund. The score clock replacement in the Tundra Oil & Gas Place arena was priced at $120,000.
The City plans to pave Fifth Avenue from its intersection with Lyons Street to the second entrance to the Tundra Oil & Gas Place parking lot. This work is estimated at $800,000 and will be paid for by borrowing. The replacement of the arena’s clock is estimated at $120,000.
A new grader will be acquired to replace the current one, which is over 20 years old and for which it is difficult to obtain parts. Supply chain issues may affect its delivery.
Other budget highlights include:
- An irrigation system for Victoria Park at $45,000 and the resurfacing of tennis courts at $50,000.
- A contribution of $45,000 to the Boost committee for the Very Virden Christmas promotion and the creation of two new murals downtown this summer.
- The creation of a programming/events position at a cost of $90,000 which will be offset by the dissolution of Prairie West Recreation and increased revenue from Tundra Oil & Gas Place, which has resumed full operations diet.
- $70,000 to cover start-up costs for the Licensed Practical Nursing program which Assiniboine Community College recently announced would begin in Virden this fall.
- The extension of municipal sewer service to properties in the City’s industrial park, at an estimated cost of $650,000 to be financed by debt.
Questions and answers
Added to the budget are two new recreational facilities that opened last year – $550,000 for the spray park, which will be built later this summer, and $340,231 for the skate park. During the question period following the meeting, Bobbie Heaman asked if the committee that raised the funds to establish the spray park would contribute to its upkeep.
“That was the intention, but volunteer burnout hit pretty hard,” Coun said. Whitney Baker, who sits on the committee. “It’s been a long, hard road to raise the $500,000 and there have been about six volunteers for five or six years who have done the majority of that, and they need a break. We hope to make up for it. The city put the spray park in the budget as a line, and we would give them a grant if we did a fundraiser that year.
Plans call for the lighting installation and landscaping of the skate park area to be completed before it opens for the season.
Terry Johnson, a former councillor, praised the Council for its efforts to pay off the debt incurred by the construction of Tundra Oil and Gas Place.
“I think that’s good news,” he said. Hats off to you for staying the course and paying for this place within the original time frame.”
Council passed motions to adopt the financial plan as presented and to give first and second reading to the by-law on levying taxes.
Approved road construction expenditures
Following the presentation of its financial plan, council held a public hearing regarding funding for road construction projects planned for later this year.
On King Street, work includes resurfacing the parking lanes from the bridge to Thomas Drive. Pavement and pavement for parking lanes on Seventh Avenue South from Lyons Street West to King Street West is also included. Both streets fall under provincial jurisdiction, and Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation will be responsible for paving the traffic lanes. They also take note of engineering. At both locations, the fire hydrants will be replaced as needed, and the curb and gutter will be repaired. Chief Executive Stewart said that in the event the City is required to fund the full cost, which is estimated to be $400,000, through borrowing, the mill rate would increase by 0.409 mill.
“For a homeowner with a home valued at $300,000, that translates to a local improvement tax of $55.25 that will be levied annually over five years,” Stewart said.
The work schedule is not yet known.
“The King Street portion has been approved,” she said. “The City is putting the loan in place for both streets in anticipation of approval of the Seventh Avenue portion of the project for 2022. We have not been confirmed on this.”
The Local Improvements By-law has had its first reading and will now be sent to the Provincial Municipal Commission for review and approval.