Town stiffed by feds on siphon money

Town stiffed by feds on siphon money

The Town of Oliver did not secure funds from the federal government to help fix the irrigation siphon at Gallagher Lake. (File photo)

Oliver Town council members are very disappointed after coming away empty handed in their quest for siphon repair money.

Water councillor Rick Machial still believes the whole charade is political and said so on Monday.

“I’m disappointed because it sounded like they (federal government) wanted to give us money, and they were looking for a mechanism. They asked us to coordinate with the provincial government, now it’s all gone, I don’t know how that happened.”

Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said the siphon repair project at Gallagher Lake has not been selected for federal funding under Canada’s Mitigation and Adaptation Fund. However, it may qualify under a second intake.

Cowan checked with Municipal Affairs to see if the project would qualify for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, but learned that agricultural water does not qualify.

But she did say the province has indicated there is no expiry date on its promised $5 million funding, but the money won’t be guaranteed for an extended period of time.

Cowan stressed to government officials that the project is not a private utility but a public utility, paid for by user fees.

Councillor Dave Mattes said it’s very frustrating that the government told the Town to find a mechanism for funding, but when it attempted to find one, the answer was no.

“Everybody said, ‘yes, yes, yes,’ so how did it  disintegrate into now we have a big fat no?” Machial asked in bewilderment.

The Town continues to brainstorm actions on what to do to protect the siphon against future rock falls. One idea is building a cover for $200,000.

Council has also been discussing an emergency plan in case the siphon is compromised this summer by another slide. Utilizing pumps and equipment to pump around the damage is one method.

The $11 million repair project that council previously approved consists of rerouting the canal around Gallagher Lake along Highway 97 south.