Opinion

Letnick: Capital project priorities will face funding challenges

In January, your local MLAs asked you to select from among 17 proposed capital projects in our region, so we would know which projects you believe should garner the highest priority.

To obtain results of this survey, please visit my web site at www.normletnickmla.bc.ca or call my constituency office at 250-765-8516.

It is my intent to keep you up to date on developments related to these capital priorities through my web site and e-newsletters, which you can subscribe to through my web site or by sending me an email request at norm.letnick.mla@leg.bc.ca.

I believe most people recognize that with budgetary pressures at both the federal and provincial levels, infrastructure programs will be, for at least the near future, harder to come by.

This heightens the importance of our community’s capital priorities exercise, as well as setting realistic expectations of government’s fiscal ability to allocate funds to every capital priority.

Some exciting projects are also already underway in the Kelowna area. One example is the four-laning of Highway 33 and passing lane up Walker’s Hill, with funding from the City of Kelowna, the Federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, ICBC, and the annual Provincial Capital Expansion Program.

Another example is the relocation of Highway 97 through Lake Country, which is being funded through the Build Canada Fund and, again, the annual Provincial Capital Extension Program.

Now, let’s look at a priority group that secured four of the top five spots.

Transportation Infrastructure—the top vote getters in this category were a new connector road between Glenmore Road and Highway 97/UBCO, development of a new strategic transportation plan for the Okanagan Valley, additional investments in sidewalks and cycling paths, an improvement at the Intersection of Highway 97 and Sexsmith Road, and the revitalization of Highway 33 between Rutland and Hollywood Roads.

For new capital projects, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure may partner with local government where improvements to safety and operating efficiency on provincial highways can be realized including initiatives related to transit.

Typically these are for works related to a capital project like the construction of the UBCO Flyover project or the recent HOV project where provincial and municipal funding were used.

Annual funding of minor capital or rehabilitation projects may also provide local infrastructure benefits where things like intersection improvements or transit stop upgrades may be carried out.

All five of these projects offer varying degrees of promise.

In other words, some are easier to accomplish than others. I can assure you, however, that we are working very hard to secure funding in these areas and I am optimistic there will be good news to report on at least a couple of these priorities in the not too distant future.

Norm Letnick is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

 

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