An MP who toured the canal repair project last week said small communities like Oliver are being ignored when it comes to infrastructure funding.
MP Matt Jeneroux (Edmonton Riverbend) said he literally climbed the mountain at Gallagher Lake with South-Okanagan-West Kootenay Conservative candidate Helena Konanz.
The tour was organized by the Town to gain momentum in its request for federal funding, which is still in limbo. The Town is applying for approximately $20 million to reroute the siphon along Highway 97 south and upgrade other sections of the canal.
While the province has committed $5 million, the Town has not received any commitment from the federal government. It is reported the Town will have to borrow approximately $6 million for the repair job.
A section of the canal was damaged by a rock slide in 2016. It was temporarily repaired and now awaits a permanent fix (by rerouting it around Gallagher Lake).
“It’s very clear that the situation is urgent in Oliver and the mayor and CAO are working extremely hard to determine a solution,” Jeneroux said.
The shadow Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs said the Town is involved in a back-and-forth game with the Liberal government. He added the community needs to know what the funding answer is so it can move forward with alternate options.
Jeneroux said he learned an interesting fact about the canal: it is nearly 100 years old and “quite a remarkable feat of engineering for its time.”
Konanz said there’s no reason why a community like Oliver should be ignored when the situation is so critical. “(Shadow) Minister Jeneroux will go back to Ottawa and try to find a solution or at least a recommendation.”
Konanz said the canal has been an ongoing issue for many years, therefore, redirecting the siphon along the highway makes sense.
The candidate said she doesn’t know what the Town’s chances are of getting the money, but they are better now that Generoux is helping.