Potential Shire Hall renovation receives ICIP Funding

CRAMPED QUARTERS At times, such as at this meeting in 2018, seating at the Council Chamber Gallery at Shire Hal can be hard to come by. A joint investment by the federal and provincial government could create a better viewing area. (Chad Ibbotson Gazette File Photo)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

A portion of the cost to remodel the council chambers and public gallery at Shire Hall will be covered by an allotment through COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a joint provincial-federal infrastructure funding program.

Nearly $200,000 was announced for the coffers of County of Prince Edward last week as part of a $1.869 million investment earmarked for a handful of municipalities in the Bay of Quinte area. According to the news release, $199,174 will allow for Shire Hall to be renovated by “expanding the council chambers and public gallery and improving livestream technology and accessibility.”

While the finished plans and detailed design time lines have yet to be established, County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson said the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the restrictions of the historic seat of municipal government.

“The Shire Hall Council Chambers has provided the forum for public municipal meetings in some form for almost 150 years. This historically important space plays an important role in our local government,“ Ferguson said. “However, COVID-19 and the associated restrictions have served to reinforce the limitations of this space for our modern world. Thanks to this funding from the federal and provincial government, the County of Prince Edward will have the option to consider addressing the accessibility and technological challenges of the Council Chambers and reduce the barriers to participating in the democratic process at the local level. “

The funding for Shire Hall improvements is part of nearly $2 million that will help provide infrastructure improvements in the City of Belleville, Quinte West and Hastings County.

“I am proud to share the federal government’s investment in our community infrastructure to develop and renovate municipal buildings, community centres and cultural facilities, providing safe and inclusive spaces for all residents of the Bay of Quinte. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities. I am very pleased to see the positive changes in the Bay of Quinte as we continue to move forward with our provincial, municipal, and community partners,” said Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis.

The Government of Canada is investing over $1,495,337 toward these five projects while the Government of Ontario is contributing more than $373,834.

“These grants through the ICIP partnership improve quality of life for people across Bay of Quinte by enhancing public spaces in our communities,” Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith added. “The approved projects will extend safety and accessibility and create good jobs within our region. Our Province is pleased to work with the federal government to support local municipalities through this pandemic.”

The funding announced last week will support upgrades to improve and protect important municipal buildings such as town centres and emergency and healthcare facilities. Additional investments will rehabilitate recreational and community infrastructure across Eastern Ontario, and include improvements to local trail and pedestrian path systems. These investments will provide thousands of residents with access to modern recreational infrastructure where they can safely maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.

Other supported projects in the Bay of Quinte Include:

•City of Belleville – Community Trail, Park, and Playground Enhancements, $920,000 This project will upgrade five parks and create a new dog park within the City. The work will involve upgrading play structures in Cascade, Haig, and Stanley Park, extending the trail and adding furnishings in Bird Park, while upgrading spectator facilities at Mary-Ann Sills Park. That work includes moving light poles, pouring concrete pads for bleachers, and adding fencing. In addition, a new dog park will be created north of Hwy 401 by fencing in an area and adding bleachers.

•City of Belleville – River Road sidewalk reconstruction, $202,996 This project will reconstruct the River Road sidewalk.

•City of Quinte West – Centennial Park Waterfront Trail expansion, $447,002 This project will expand active transportation infrastructure in Quinte West. The work will involve constructing a new pathway, planting trees, and adding sod, planting beds, accessible picnic tables, bike racks, benches, and solar lighting units.

•County of Hastings – Hastings Manor Long-Term Care flooring project, $100,000 This project will replace the tile floor in the common areas and corridors on the second floor at the Hastings Manor in Belleville.

Through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities while Ontario is investing over $10.2 billion under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green, and rural and northern community and other priority infrastructure.

To support Canadians and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, a COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream has been added to the over $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to help fund pandemic-resilient infrastructure.

Existing program streams have also been adapted to include more eligible project categories.