MP gets educated on West Kelowna infrastructure needs

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas says he will convey West Kelowna's needs to Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater (right) shows Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas the progress that the municipality has made in providing sewer service to its residents. The mayor also told Albas about $70 million in infrastructure improvements that are on the district's wish list.

West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater (right) shows Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas the progress that the municipality has made in providing sewer service to its residents. The mayor also told Albas about $70 million in infrastructure improvements that are on the district's wish list.

The federal government’s new infrastructure plan won’t kick in until 2014; however, Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas is already taking note of West Kelowna’s wish list.

Albas met with Mayor Doug Findlater Tuesday to learn how the Westside has used infrastructure dollars in the past.

In 2009 and 2010, the district received grants of $5.1 million and $8.8 million from the federal and provincial governments. As a result, the municipality has been able to provide 1,433 new sewer connections to its residents.

The Westside will complete the majority of its current Sewer Servicing Strategy by November.

“West Kelowna is in very good shape for sewer works going forward; it wouldn’t have been done without the federal and provincial money that came in,” said Findlater.

Findlater said that it’s nice to have the district’s top infrastructure need dealt with; however, there is more than $70 million in infrastructure needs that the district still has in mind.

“As a municipality, we’ve got a myriad of infrastructure needs and problems. We’ve inherited old, deteriorating and non-existant infrastructure everywhere we turn—this is our challenge.

“We feel we’re a bit more deserving and a bit of a special case in order to get caught up; we’re counting on both the senior levels of government to help us.”

The mayor added that West Kelowna has set aside over $20 million into reserves, which will allow the district to partner with the federal and provincial governments when opportunities arise.

Albas said that, as a new member, he needs to understand the concerns of his riding so he can begin the communication and planning process.

He added that the district is in good shape with its money saved up in reserves.

“Every program is over-subscribed—there’s never enough money for everyone. The communities that have put together priorities, communicated to their representatives and are ready to help push along the wagon, seem to get the most results,” said Albas.

“To have a mayor and council clearly communicate what the needs of (their) area are makes my job infinitely easier in making a strong case for infrastructure programs moving forward.

“I’m going to represent the unique needs of West Kelowna to (Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel).”

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

Kelowna Capital News