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South Okanagan-West Kootenay Liberal candidate talks infrastructure funding

The Trail Times asked all six candidates the same question

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

Connie Denesiuk –

Liberal Party

Stronger advocacy for essential water and sewer projects in the Lower Columbia is clearly required. During the course of this campaign, I’ve met with local mayors and have experienced productive conversations regarding the impact of Liberal infrastructure investments in the area, such as the Trail airport upgrade and Rossland water system. The doubling of gas tax grants to municipalities is appreciated and mayors have expressed hope that these will continue.

The municipalities of Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Montrose and Fruitvale are not unique in facing infrastructure challenges. Local governments, small and large across Canada are facing this issue due to population growth or decline, changing service standards, and changing climate patterns with their related, severe weather events.

Over a ten-year period as government, Conservatives failed to invest in these essential projects. Since 2015, progress on infrastructure investment has been made but more needs to happen, including the regional sewer treatment plant and Warfield’s water purveyor project. These may be strongly resisted by fervent cost-cutters; however, daily news media show us the adverse impacts on health costs, liveability and economic viability if essential infrastructure needs are not addressed.

The lower Columbia region needs focus and attention on the part of its Member of Parliament. I will represent the region with a strong record of commitment and problem solving experience. Additionally, in contrast to previous MPs, I will have a constituency office in Trail.

Background:

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.



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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