Province commits $1.5 million for water

It appears Sicamous is $1.5 million closer to a new water treatment plant.

It appears Sicamous is $1.5 million closer to a new water treatment plant.

At last Wednesday’s council meeting, Mayor Darrell Trouton read a letter from B.C. Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett which, among other things, related to his Oct. 17 visit to the community when he presented to the district a cheque for $50,000. The funding was earmarked for a pilot project that would test proposed water treatment technology over about a six-month period as the province works with its federal partners to come up with funding options for construction of a new water treatment facility for Sicamous.

After reading the letter, Trouton had some good news for council and members of the community present. The mayor said he had  since been in contact with Bennett, and that the province has “come to the plate with $1.5 million,” for construction of a new water treatment facility.

What’s been proposed, Trouton continued, is a one-thirds funding approach, with the B.C. government, the federal government and the District of Sicamous each kicking in $1.5 million towards the plant.

“At this point I believe it is a 100 per cent commitment – where they’re going to get it from, I’m not sure,” Trouton later told the News. “They felt they have avenues not expropriated in the budget, and that they could come up with that.”

Trouton said he’s also contacted Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes on the matter.

“So the federal government hasn’t necessarily come forward yet, and they’ve asked us to apply for gas tax funding through UBCM for the million and a half. We’re applying now,” said Trouton.

Adding to this, the mayor said the federal government is also looking at trying to help the district with its share.

Bennett’s letter makes note of a commitment made by Premier Christy Clark at this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to set Sicamous’ water issues right.

“Darrell, I want you to know this, because Bill (Bennett) has asked me to make sure we set this right. I know you need that water supply fixed, and we are going to help you do it,” said Clark.

Asked for his thoughts on the proposed three-way cost sharing, Trouton was appreciative.

“You always hope for more; because it’s a disaster situation – a lot of the funding is covered 100 per cent, depending on what’s happening. But as a major infrastructure part, we need a water treatment facility,” said Trouton. “So, with them coming forward with one-third… it’s pretty good as well. So I’m pretty happy with the outcome.”

As for the federal side of things, Trouton says they’re trying to do all they can for the district.

“We’ll continue to work at it; its a work in progress,” he said.

Regarding the pilot project, district works services manager Grady MacDonald said that so far, indications are that the membrane technology being tested will work for Sicamous. He expects to have all the necessary data by March. With a commitment for funding, and approval from Interior Health, MacDonald suggested the final $4.5 million project could go out to tender by the end of August 2013. Construction would continue throughout the winter, with the facility brought online in May or June of 2014.