(Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash)

Election candidates talk to The Times

Replies will be published unedited in upcoming issues of the Trail Times

With six federal candidates vying for the MP seat in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, and no community forum in the works for Trail this time around, the Trail Times decided to ask all six politicians the same question and publish their replies.

Choosing “what to ask” went around the newsroom a few times. Ultimately, the subject landed on what matters to every taxpaying citizen here and beyond, no matter what party is voted into power Oct. 21.

That issue being, of course, “taxes.” Moreover, what will the “win” mean for the taxpayer’s pocketbook?

Narrowing the subject of “taxes” down to the local front is where the word “infrastructure” comes in. Although “infrastructure” doesn’t immediately conjure up the idea of particularly charming conversation, the subject is especially relevant for smaller B.C. communities dealing with aging core services and a limited tax base on the hook to pay for very costly upgrades.

The most immediate example is the $52-million upgrade needed for the regional sewer treatment plant that services Rossland, Warfield and Trail. With well over $1 million already invested into getting the project closer to “shelf ready,” the multi-million dollar job was recently denied for federal/provincial funding from a key source called the “Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program,” or ICIP.

The reason given was “the program received significantly more applications than could be funded.”

Obviously, a $52m project cannot go ahead without significant financial backing from government. As well, the upgrade is not a “frill” job – provincial and federal regulations now require a minimum of secondary treatment for wastewater treatment plants discharging into the environment. The regional facility near the mall, called the Columbia Pollution Control Centre, is a primary treatment plant that was built in the 1970s.

Further, the federal government cut their ICIP cost-sharing portion from 50 per cent to 40 per cent last year. That means municipal taxpayers must cover another 10 per cent of costs if their projects are approved.

This is why the Trail Times is asking, “If elected as our MP, how will you help taxpayers in Trail and the Greater Area fill this funding gap?”

Replies will be published in the next few issues of the Trail Times in alphabetical order. Replies have not been edited.

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