Bond Head is one step closer to becoming an official Heritage Conservation District (HCD).
In Tuesday night's meeting of town council, councillors received a report from the planning department on the options for the next steps and budget implications for Phase 2 of the project.
The first phase, The Study Phase, was completed in 2019.
In February 2020, council passed a resolution that allowed staff to proceed with the HCD designation and procure a qualified consultant to complete the project, once funding from the county was confirmed.
In late February 2020, town staff submitted a grant application to the Simcoe County Tourism, Culture and Sport Grant Program for the maximum $25,000.
But in April 2020, the county decided to suspend the grant program due to COVID-19. After a discussion between the town and the county about the importance of the project, the county agreed to give BWG $12,500 (50 percent of the town's requested funding) from its Partnership Fund to contribute to the HCD Designation of Bond Head.
Council then directed staff to accept and match the funds for a total of $25,000 for the project.
In June 2020, the procurement process started with the hiring of a consultant with the grant funding, and the remaining half to be considered in the 2021 budget.
But in the report to council on Tuesday, staff noted they have been unsuccessful in finding a consultant at the reduced budget. They anticipate an additional $30,000 will be required to complete Phase 2 of the HCD project.
Staff presented council with two options on Tuesday in how to move forward with the project:
Option 1: Proceed with Received Proposal, which would utilize the $25,000 in funding from the county and town for the first stage of Phase 2, with the remainder coming out of the 2022 budget ($35,000) for the second phase.
Option 2: Proceed to Competitive Request for Proposal which would have council authorize staff to initiate the required procurement process to hire a consultant to complete the project. This option would require the full $60,000 in the 2021 budget.
Coun. Gary Lamb was in favour of Option 1, to proceed with the proposal and "get it done."
Coun. Ron Orr agreed.
"Let's get it going and we can work the extra money into the 2022 budget," he said, noting it is also possible to apply for further grants.
"This has been talked about since 2007, at the end of the day there are some heritage concerns in Bond Head, Bond Head is going to build up quite a bit so it will be nice to mix the new with the old," said Coun. Peter Ferragine.
Coun. Jonathan Scott asked if it was possible to use money from this year's budget as opposed to incorporating it into next year's.
Chief Administrative Officer for the town, Geoff McKnight confirmed it could be authorized out of the 2021 budget.
"Staff are looking for preapproval so either way the money is accounted for it's just a matter of which year," he said.
Deputy Mayor James Leduc supported Option 2, to get it paid for out of this year's budget.
"I can't support Option 1. Option 2 says you pay for it today. Because 2021 is going to be a tough budget year already. I don't want to debate it anymore either," he said.
Option 2 would have the project go out to tender right away.
But Ferragine was concerned about going ahead without knowing the full cost.
Coun. Ron Orr said he would go along with Option 1, but have it financed fully within the 2021 budget.
Coun. Mark Contois also supported Option 1 to be paid for within this year's budget.
"It needs to come out this year, next year is going to be a tougher year than this year. There is going to be a lot of money going out the door. I think COVID taught us a couple of things, we need to look at our outdoor amenities and improve them. I think we have the money now, take it and get it done."
Council voted in favour of Option 1, with a friendly amendment to move it to the 2021 budget.