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Victoria council to consider legacy fund which would be a first for Canadian cities

Jul 17 2012

In what's being billed as a first for a Canadian city, Victoria councillors could authorize creation of a city legacy fund Thursday that would accept charitable donations to build city amenities such as bike lanes and neighbourhood playgrounds.

"The thing that is really exciting about it is it's an unprecedented first in Canada," said Coun. Lisa Helps.

"Other community foundations have partnered with municipalities on things like social services and the typical poverty reduction, but this is [different]."

Helps is proposing the city work with the Victoria Foundation to create the Shape Your Future Victoria Legacy Fund.

The fund would be used to build projects identified in the city's 20-year capital plan that enhance the quality of life.

"Every single Canadian city is struggling with an infrastructure deficit. So the idea behind this fund is to take care of all of the pieces of infrastructure that enhance the quality of life and well-being of Victorians - everything from bike lanes to new playgrounds to parks and all those kinds of things," Helps said.

"So that will free up money in the long run for things like sewer mains and roads and so on."

The city's list of unfunded capital projects totals $193 million. In the 2012 budget year alone, councillors were forced to cut $600,000 in proposed items ranging from improvements to parks, playgrounds, bike lanes and bus shelters, Helps says in a report to council.

"The Shape Your Future Victoria Legacy Fund is a future-focused, long-term solution that will begin to address these issues," the report says.

Helps said the fund would not be used to pay for infrastructure like sewers or to fix potholes.

The fund would boost Victoria's soon-to-bepassed official community plan, she said.

There's also an opportunity for employees or others to make regular donations to the fund, she said.

Helps received the partnership offer from the Victoria Foundation after the Times Colonist ran an article about the idea.

Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson says in a letter that the fund could receive contributions from individuals or businesses on a onetime, monthly or annual basis. As well, people could contribute via their estates.

The foundation will contribute $7,500 in seed money to the fund if the city matches it.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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