Oliver water councillor Rick Machial can’t help but look at the new year with a little trepidation. As a farmer, that’s expected, but he’s also putting some optimism in his pocket for safekeeping.
No doubt all of the flooding and the canal damage that came with it dominated his thoughts in 2017.
“We had a lot of calls from worried farmers,” he said.
But the silver lining in that situation is how quickly the Town was able to clear the canal so that orchardists could water their crops, he pointed out.
What disappointed Machial the most is how slow provincial government ministries reacted to the flooding damage.
“How did the Town become responsible for all the creeks (and clearing the culverts)?” he asked. He noted that ensuring proper drainage should not be up to the Town, but the province.
Machial hopes the provincial government doesn’t drag its feet next time and is proactive as opposed to reactive.
The councillor admitted that he’s worried that Oliver will be a victim of flooding again in 2018.
“Because of the fires (in BC), we’ll be getting flooding every year.”
Something else Machial is worried about is federal funding for the canal repair at Gallagher Lake.
“I’m worried but optimistic at the same time; we may get an answer (from the government) this spring.”
Machial said the province has already committed $5 million towards the repair, so the Town is relying on the federal government to chip in.
In the meantime, it feels like a guillotine hanging over your head, he stated.
Looking ahead to 2018, Machial mentioned the new aquatic centre study for the South Okanagan.
“Personally, I’m against it. I don’t think we’re a big enough area to justify that . . . $10 million and maintenance costs for people to go swimming?”
Another issue he sees the Town grappling with is the new marijuana legislation and its impact locally.
Machial predicts more businesses opening up to sell cannabis, which will mean more employment.
As for the perceived harm the drug will do to the community, the councillor said cannabis is far less harmful than alcohol.