The Town of Oliver will complete the third and final phase of its rural water twinning project thanks to $1,243,000 from the federal government through the Gas Tax Fund transfer. This project, which started in 2006, will provide potable water to approximately 1,500 residents and many businesses in rural Oliver.
Oliver’s rural water system, which was developed in the 1920s, required significant upgrades. The rural water twinning project will provide a parallel water pipeline grid to supply year-round, potable water to all rural customers. Once complete, this project will remove the Town’s need to operate under water quality advisories several months each year. The total budget for this final phase is estimated at $1,864,000.
“The water twinning project is the cornerstone of health and safety improvements for our rural water customers,” said Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes. “After seven years of phased design and construction, having funding in place to finally complete this project is great news for current residents and future generations.”
It’s often challenging for local governments to cover the costs of large infrastructure projects, such as the water-twinning project, said Bill Bennett, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “This Gas Tax funding contributes significantly to the completion of this project that will greatly enhance water quality to address the needs of local residents and to guard their health.”
“There are many communities in BC with infrastructure that has exceeded its shelf life,” said Union of British Columbia Municipalities president Mary Sjostrom. She noted her delight in seeing gas taxes support Oliver’s project.
Hovanes said the water twinning project has been a priority for successive councils since 2003. The first application for two-thirds funding came under former mayor Linda Larson’s tenure.
“It was an ambitious proposal and it was rejected primarily because of the size of the project,” Hovanes said.
In 2005 the Town met with ministry staff and the discussion included splitting the project into multiple phases. The Town proposed two phases and the province suggested three.
In 2006 the Town received two-thirds funding for phase one. Subsequently the ministry required that universal water metering would have to be included in the second phase. This was done on all existing homes, plus all new rural homes attached to the twinned system.
Hovanes said the province required a water management plan, and as citizens, “we cannot take water quality for granted, especially for future generations.”
The mayor said ongoing lobbying efforts to finish the third phase has finally paid off. “The strong relationship that the Town has always had with senior levels of government has not gone unnoticed.”