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View Royal, Colwood compete for recreation grant

Both municipalities want $400,000 for improvements

View Royal is hoping to speed up planned improvements at View Royal Park with the help of a $400,000 Community Recreation Program grant.

Premier Christy Clark announced the new grant program last September. A total of $30 million in funding will be spread across the province for projects that support increased physical activity.

The Town has applied for the maximum amount that can be allocated to a single project. The funding would be used to install an outdoor fitness circuit, extend walking trails and improve the off-leash dog area in the 6.6 hectare park located in the Helmcken neighbourhood, between Craigflower Creek and Trans Canada Highway.

"I think we have a pretty good chance," parks committee chair Coun. David Screech said. "The premier indicated preference would be given smaller communities."

The improvements the grant would cover are among those recommended in a master plan for the park, which council approved last year. The work was expected to be spread out over 10 to 15 years, to allow time for the Town to build up sufficient funds. But with the grant the work would be done by March 2015, which is the deadline to use the funding.

"It would be great to see a good chunk of the work done in the park sooner than expected," Screech said.  "It's a well used park."

The total cost for the work proposed is $527,000. The amount not covered by the grant would come out of the Town's capital budget.

Of course, View Royal isn't the only one looking for piece of the grant money.

Colwood has also applied for $400,000 for cycling and sidewalk improvements for Metchosin Road, between Wishart Road and Painter Road.

The City had planned to use a LocalMotion grant to pay for that project, but decided instead to direct the funding towards similar improvements on the Island Highway.

The Metchosin Road project is listed as the top priority in Colwood's Active Transportation Plan, approved early 2009.

Colwood transportation committee chair Judith Cullington said the route is important because it's heavily used by young people.

"Students going to Sangster, Dunsmuir and soon the new Belmont school at Royal Bay, need to use Metchosin Road to get to school," she said. "Right now there's just a white line down the side of the road and they have to walk or bike on the shoulder."

It will cost $800,000 to add 500 metres of sidewalk on one side of the street and bike lanes on both sides. If the recreation grant comes through to cover half the cost of work, gas tax funding could be used for the rest, Cullington said.

"If we get this grant, we can improve the road at no cost to the local tax payer," Cullington said.

The province will announce the successful applicants by March 31.