South Okanagan-West Kootenay Conservative candidate talks infrastructure funding

The Trail Times asked all six candidates the same question

Helena Konanz - Conservative Party

Helena Konanz - Conservative Party

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

Helena Konanz

Conservative Party

This is a big part of why I put my name forward to run as a Conservative MP. When I was a Penticton City councillor under the former Conservative Government, we witnessed all kinds of support from the federal government firsthand. We saw the improvements in quality of life and more so, people were able to get ahead, not just get by like they are now.

In the case of Penticton, our wastewater treatment plant, our water treatment plant and our Community Center swimming pool, all received federal support for much needed upgrades. Regionally, we saw federal support for major upgrades with highways widened on Highway 3 and Highway 97 as well as federal infrastructure grants in other small communities.

However, since the riding has changed in representation and a Liberal government has come to power, federal funding had dried up and us in the South Okanagan have been forgotten. People in Trail and Rossland (as examples) send significant tax dollars to Ottawa and are not seeing a return for that money; returns such as infrastructure dollars and regional representation.

As a former city councillor and candidate for the Conservative Party, I am proud to run for a party who has a demonstrated track-record of supporting this region. A party who will put shovels back in the ground and will support communities like Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Montrose and Fruitvale, so that these communities are no longer ignored.

Black Press election coverage here: Federal Election

Background on Trail Times question:

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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