The next steps in building a better Kelowna area

Your local MLAs Ben Stewart, Steve Thomson and I recently asked residents to prioritize a list of 17 capital projects identified by leaders in our area. 

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Your local MLAs Ben Stewart, Steve Thomson and I recently asked residents to prioritize a list of 17 capital projects identified by leaders in our area. 

Residents were also given the option of including capital priorities outside the list of 17 that were important to them.

The response was tremendous, with more than 650 people giving their input.

On behalf of Ben, Steve and myself, I want to thank everybody who took the time to participate.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time residents have been asked to help prioritize capital projects by the area’s three MLAs, and the strong response received clearly indicates the process should be repeated in the future.

Over the next few days, the submissions from each constituency will be consolidated into a single list.

Any name identifiers will be removed to protect privacy, and a report will be generated presenting the level of support for each project proposed.

The next task is to identify all aspects surrounding each proposal in order to focus our efforts.

Government funds—your funds—are limited.

It is therefore very important that questions be answered as we prepare to advocate for our community’s priorities.

Some of the questions to be considered are:

• Which projects are shovel-ready?

• Which provincial ministry – or ministries – would be involved?

• Who is taking the lead? (water suppliers, school district, IHA, others)?

• Is funding available through programs such as the Build Canada Plan?

• Should a particular project be funded by the Province alone, with other levels of government, or as a public-private partnership (P3)?

• How much public support was expressed for each project through this consultation process?

All of this information— and more—will be compiled into a large matrix.

Once ready, it will be made available to residents through our websites, the media, public meetings and at our offices.

After all, this process is based on the input of citizens and that will continue.

This is a process that requires an intensive effort in consultation, along with a hard-nosed commitment to get on with the job.

Since being elected in 2009, we have worked with MLAs, MPs and our municipal partners throughout the Okanagan to secure hundreds of millions of dollars for spending on local highways, hospitals, housing and other important investments.

A recent example is the $77.9 million Highway 97 Winfield-Oyama four-laning project, which last week received federal environmental approval and has now gone to tender.

Some of the infrastructure programs have expired now, but armed with your priority list we will be able to continue the work of presenting the best case to the relevant decision makers and partners for continued investment in one of Canada’s fastest growing areas.  

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

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