The City of Duncan is applying for a $1 million government grant for its “place-making project” on Station Street.
Council decided at its meeting on Dec. 12 to apply for the grant from the province’s Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program and, if the application is successful, the city will kick in an additional $200,000 for the project from its Police Bridging Capital Reserve Fund, making the budget for the project $1.2 million.
The city applied for a $1 million grant in 2020 from the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program for the project, but it was unsuccessful.
Kyle Young, Duncan’s planning manager, said in a report that REDIP is intended to support projects that promote economic diversification, resilience, clean growth, and infrastructure development.
“Staff believe the Station Street placemaking project aligns most closely with the intent of the funding program, and will therefore have the greatest chance of success,” he said.
“The Station Street project is also a good candidate for a grant application because the conceptual designs and public engagement work have already been completed. If completed, this project would be of significant benefit to the community and represents a continued investment in the revitalization, infrastructure enhancement, and placemaking objectives in downtown Duncan.”
Young said the overall plan for Station Street includes significant improvements to the park, enhancements to the Station Street/Craig Street intersection and immediately surrounding area, and installation of public washrooms.
He said the drawings prepared to date are conceptual only, and if the city is successful in its grant application, the next step would be retaining qualified professionals to undertake the detailed engineering and landscape architectural designs.
“Additional permanent public washrooms would also meet an identified need to support public events in the downtown,” Young said.
“Decisions on grant applications are expected by March 31, 2023. Successful projects must start within one year of approval and acceptance of funds and be completed within two years of the project start.”
The city undertook a public “placemaking” project for Station Street and Whistler Street in 2020 with Mark Lakeman and his Portland-based design firm Communitecture.
The project kicked off with a public presentation at Vancouver Island University later that year, followed by two public workshops on the two sites in the following days.
At the council meeting, Coun. Carol Newington asked if any of the grant money is intended to go towards the Whistler Street project if the application is successful.
Young replied that the grant criteria indicates that only one project would be funded.
“Staff are recommending we move forward with the Station Street project,” he said.
“We looked at the two projects and felt that the Station Street project would have the best chance of success in the grant application.”
Based on the public input, Communitecture’s design for Station Street recommends a variety of seating spaces and gathering areas that would be arranged around a spacious round lawn.
Covered tables to the south and east would provide space for meals and conversations in most seasons.
Berms and boulders to the north would invite young people to play and even splash in a seasonal stream in summer.
Planters and benches across the street would extend the gathering space out into the urban streetscape, and food trucks parked on Station Street and the public washrooms in the alley to the north would provide additional amenities.