Othello Road at Nestle Waters has had its gravel washed away from underneath it in February. Crystal Wiebe photo

Othello Road at Nestle Waters has had its gravel washed away from underneath it in February. Crystal Wiebe photo

Othello, Richmond Hill infrastructure projects shelved amid COVID-19

Hope’s council also support a break on utility bill penalties, until the end of 2020

As the federal government re-prioritizes funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic response, it looks like the lone stoplight at Othello Road will have to remain for the time being.

The Othello Road repair project is one of two major infrastructure improvements Mayor Peter Robb said will not happen this year. The other is the building of a pedestrian path from Silver Creek to Hope over Richmond Hill, a project Robb has previously said is a priority of his and one way to give attention to a “neglected part of the community.”

Federal funding for these projects has been redistributed, which means they won’t go ahead for the time being.

“When things get going again, these are shelf ready projects, and the government’s going to want to stimulate the economy,” Robb said, striking a hopeful tone. “They talked about the first thing they’re going to do is release infrastructure money, so it could be back on the table. But right now…we wouldn’t be able to move forward on it. We just couldn’t afford it.”

Each project relied heavily on federal and provincial funding to make them possible. Richmond Hill, a $840,000 project, was meant to be funded 40 per cent by the federal government, 33.33 from the province and the remaining 26.67 from the district.

For Othello Road, a $1.85-million project, a 50 per cent investment was meant to come from the feds, 40 per cent from the province and the remaining 10 per cent from the district.

The plan for both of these infrastructure projects was to do detailed designs and procurements this year and start construction in 2021 chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky confirmed. This was dependent on the grants being successful.

A break on utility bill penalties

Hope’s councillors are unanimous in their support of the idea to waive late fees for residents’ utility bills.

In a committee meeting Tuesday evening, livestreamed on the district’s Facebook page, councillors voiced support for the plan to waive penalties for payments due between April 1 and the end of the calendar year.

This is one of the limited tools, said Mayor Peter Robb, that the district has to help people feeling the crunch from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an easy one that made sense to start off with,” the Mayor said. “As we can do more we certainly will do more.”

Penalties run up to 10 per cent on late payments for water, sewer and solid waste district documents state. The change would remove $21,800 from the 2020 budget, a document the district is currently working on.

The change isn’t a carte blanche for people to not pay their bills, rather it allows some leeway for when these are paid. If the bills are not paid by the end of the year they will be rolled into taxes said finance director Dale Courtice.

The motion will have to go before council April 27 before it is adopted.


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