Survey cites water quality as top concern

And the winner is...

Water quality was the top priority identified by voters from a capital spending survey circulated by local MLAs.

And the winner is…

A survey by Kelowna’s three MLAs to designate the public’s top priority for provincial capital funding here has deemed upgrades to water quality the top choice of 657 respondents, followed by a new road connecting Glenmore Road and Highway 97.

The two projects easily outdistanced the third-place finisher, a new middle school in the Mission and the fourth place finisher, money for a strategic transportation plan.

“We got the raw data and did the tables and it was clear those two were the top priorities,” said Norm Letnick, Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country.

He said as far as he knows the funding priority exercise was the first time it had been done by a group of MLAs from one area.

Along with his colleagues Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) and Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna), whose riding includes downtown Kelowna, Letnick asked the public to list, in preference, 17 proposed capital projects so the trio would know where the public wants them to concentrate their efforts when it comes to securing provincial grants.

While the public was allowed to add their own projects, only one made the list, a new middle school for the Mission. That project finished a surprising third on the list.

Letnick said while other projects, such as affordable housing, money for a new Glenmore recreation centre, a new Kelowna tourism centre and a new elementary school in West Kelowna did not finish in the top half of the list, it does not mean the trio will stop lobbying for them.

“But this gives us an idea of what the public feels are the most important projects,” he said.

Letnick added that if money comes available for any of the lower rated projects, it will be sought and there is no need to hold up lower rated projects while funds are awaited for higher rated ones.

Now that the priority list has been completed, Letnick said the next step will be to create a matrix that will include funding sources, possible funding partners and other information for all 18 projects.

While it will likely take several months to complete the matrix because of the information that must be sought, the local MLA said he and his colleagues want to post ongoing updates on their websites so the public can be constantly kept informed as to where the projects are in terms of the work being done to secure money for them.

As for the top priority, the general description “water quality improvements” is broad and will need to be refined to identify specific projects.

Currently, the five area water local purveyors are working on a joint study looking at how it delivers clean water to its customers. That study is expected to identify projects that need provincial funding, said Letnick.

He added the projects could be located in any of the three area ridings.

For a full list of the priorities and the votes each garnered, go to any of the three MLAs’ websites at www.normletnickmla.bc.ca., www.stevethomsonmla.bc.ca or www.benstewartmla.bc.ca. and click on the Your Input On Capital Priorities box.

awaters@kelownacapnews.com