City council has voted to apply for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). The federal grant program gives up to 40% of funding for infrastructure projects meant to curb damage from natural disasters.
Funds received from the program will be put towards upgrading the city’s Stormwater Master Plan to help reduce flooding from heavy rainfall. The project will cost over $55 million, but Mayor Aalbers says the city still has a “get out of jail free card.”
“If we don’t like what the federal government comes back to us with on this one, we can take a pass. We can say we’d rather go it alone or we’ll wait until another program comes around, hopefully,” says Aalbers.
Council was cautious to support applying because of a $20 million threshold and no guarantee of how much the DMAF will fund the project. Aalbers says that may still be an issue.
“If they come back with two, or five, or seven per cent, this council or the council of that day will have to take a hard look at that and say, do we want seven per cent to spend $55 million,” says Aalbers.
Aalbers adds other cities are applying for large grants as well, but that there aren’t many applications yet.
He agrees with councillor Aaron Buckingham that it’s an important message they need to send to the federal government.
“People expect clean water to drink, they expect their wastewater to be properly dealt with, and they don’t want their basements flooded, and that’s what stormwater falls into. I think that’s the important message we need to send to the federal government,” says Aalbers.
Aalbers also mentioned they will begin multi-year budgeting and begin to talk about with when the 2019 budget comes out.