Gas tax returns will fund special projects in Sooke, Juan de Fuca

Sooke will receive $270,793 and Juan de Fuca $150,000 in Community Works Fund payments

The District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area are a little richer today.

Sooke will receive $270,793 and Juan de Fuca $150,000 in the first of two annual federal Community Works Fund payments. The money comes from gas tax.

In both communities, the money is for infrastructure and recreation projects.

Both Sooke and the Juan de Fuca officials have already earmarked most of the money in budgets for this year and future years.

In Sooke’s case, the gas tax money goes to roads (maintenance, improvement, replacement) and this year some funds will go to the new artificial turf field at Fred Milne Park, said Teresa Sullivan, Sooke’s chief administrative officer.

The situation is a different in the Juan de Fuca, said Capital Regional District director Mike Hicks.

Up until three years ago, the money could only be used for infrastructure projects, and Hicks said it was difficult to find projects in the Juan de Fuca because roads and other infrastructure are a provincial responsibility in rural communities.

Now, the money can be used for recreational facilities, and that, said Hicks, “changed the world for me.”

Since 2014, Hicks has been able to use the money for the artificial turf field, wilderness trails and fishing piers at Kemp and Poirier lakes.

And because Hicks more than three years ago couldn’t find infrastructure projects, he now has more than $1 million to spend through the course of the gas agreement which ends in 2024.

“It sounds like a lot, but it’s not much. I try to stretch it. I don’t run out and do large projects. I try to spread it out the best I can,” he said.

“It’s just a really nice thing for us to have. It’s just tremendous.”

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