A vehicle is submerged in flood waters along a road in Abbotsford, B.C., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A vehicle is submerged in flood waters along a road in Abbotsford, B.C., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Prevention is possible and essential: North Okanagan-Shuswap MP

Mel Arnold’s column highlights need for infrastructure investments amid disasters

Mel Arnold

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP

Nearly 300 years ago, Benjamin Franklin extolled the need for fire prevention to residents of Philadelphia when he famously wrote that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Despite the centuries that have passed, this statement still rings true.

Flooding and landslides we have recently witnessed in British Columbia have wreaked havoc on the lives of many and affected communities across our province and beyond. It has been heartening to see Canadians stepping up to help each other and I hope we can continue to support those who have lost so much.

While governments and communities approach the challenges of restoring infrastructure we need for our daily lives, infrastructure must be built back better than before. Likewise, Canadians and the communities we call home require improved infrastructure to protect their homes and lives.

Over the past month, I have been connecting with Indigenous and local governments from across the North Okanagan-Shuswap to receive their input on the needs and priorities of the communities we represent, and infrastructure is a priority theme that has been consistently shared. Across our region, communities continue to need support to improve roads, upgrade water and wastewater treatment systems and establish overdue mitigations for natural disasters like wildfires, floods and landslides.

These priority needs are not new; in fact, I have been advocating for many of them since first being elected in 2016 as I have consistently provided the federal government with an annual submission of priorities for our communities ahead of federal budgets.

Over those years and in those budgets, some $188 billion in federal infrastructure spending has been announced, but local governments and communities from coast to coast to coast continue to identify that more resources need to reach the ground.

Urgent needs are known, and resources have been announced, so why are results not being achieved?

In March, Canada’s Auditor General, Karen Hogan, released her report on the Trudeau government’s Investing in Canada Plan launched in 2016 to deliver infrastructure funds through multiple streams including the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

In her report, Hogan determined that funds have not been spent according to prescribed timelines and federal departments were unable to account for the plan’s overall progress towards its expected results. The report also warned that the full benefits of the plan’s intended investments may never make it to communities.

Canadians need the federal government to get serious about delivering infrastructure results that will help prevent and mitigate the damage and chaos that we have recently seen in British Columbia. Needs and priorities have been identified, resources have been announced and results are overdue.

Both as a Canadian and as your Member of Parliament, I continue to work with my colleagues to demand sound management of infrastructure resources to deliver the essential results we need to better secure our lives and communities from disasters that we must prevent.

READ MORE: Summer wildfires spark need for FireSmart work in Vernon

READ MORE: Financial aid coming to flood evacuees as B.C. officials warn of rainy, ‘challenging’ days ahead


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