West Kelowna requests infrastructure tax breaks at UBCM

BC Hydro may be closer to a decision on where to put a second power line into West Kelowna.

  • Sep. 29, 2016 7:00 p.m.

West Kelowna

On Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the Union of BC Municipalities convention, members of West Kelowna council met with B.C.’s finance minister.

The topic for discussion was a PST exemption on municipal projects and BC Hydro to get an update on the West Kelowna Transmission Project.

West Kelowna reps also joined the Regional District of Central Okanagan in its meeting with B.C.’s Environment Minister to discuss biosolids.

The City of West Kelowna presented the following notes regarding the UBCM meetings in a press release.

On Wednesday, council members met with the Hon. Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance to discuss the city’s interest in seeing municipalities exempt from paying the Provincial Sales Tax on critical infrastructure projects. This is also the subject of a resolution put forward by the City of West Kelowna for consideration by the UBCM membership.

“I would say he found it to be a very interesting idea,” Mayor Doug Findlater said in the press release. ”Obviously the province is looking at the revenue side of things with PST, but we made our case.”

• BC Hydro representatives to get an update on the West Kelowna Transmission Project and whether a location has been identified for the line which will provide backup power security for West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Peachland.

“We got a very good briefing on the status of the project,” Findlater was quoted. “They are starting to narrow down the options and are very close to taking some off the table. They have done a detailed wildfire risk analysis of the options and they are still saying that their best case scenario is that we’ll have a second transmission line in place by 2020.”

• West Kelowna representatives also joined representatives of RDCO, as well as Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and Peachland, to meet with B.C.’s Environment Minister Mary Polak to discuss biosolids and the difficulty with finding appropriate locations for disposal of the biosolids for this area.

“We were advised that the province is making progress with the review of the Organic Matter Recycling regulations and told us there would be an announcement in the coming months,” Findlater said.

The mayor attended the Mayors’ Caucus meeting Monday morning which featured an address from Hon. Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and advised that Premier Christy Clark spoke to the delegates Wednesday.

“We heard a few messages, first at the Mayors’ Caucus, and then from the Premier that infrastructure funding would be coming to municipalities,” Findlater said. “We heard repeatedly that water and wastewater projects would have priority and I know West Kelowna council will be discussing how to accelerate our Water Master Plan projects to take advantage of this.”

Following is the City of West Kelowna’s resolution submission to the UBCM:

WHEREAS local governments within the Province of British Columbia are responsible for essential infrastructure in areas such as water, sewer and storm sewer mains as well as roads;

AND WHEREAS these critical infrastructures, which were constructed years ago using a dollar which had a greater purchasing power, are subject to provincial health and safety regulations which require local governments to upgrade or replace the infrastructure despite limited funds and grant opportunities:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the Ministry of Finance to provide a provincial sales tax exemption on the upgrade or replacement of local government infrastructure projects.

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