$$$ to fix The Ditch high on UBCM to-do list
By ROY WOOD
Oliver council will pull out all the stops trying to get help from the province with the permanent repair of the irrigation canal that was badly damaged more than two years ago.
This year’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention is slated for September in Whistler. It’s the annual event at which provincial cabinet ministers are available for municipal officials to plead their cases for whatever is on their wish lists.
At Monday’s committee meeting, members of council discussed which topics they’d like to bring up to provincial ministers.
Topping the list, said Mayor Ron Hovanes, is a “permanent fix to the irrigation canal.”
The Gallagher Lake siphon section of the canal was damaged by a rock slide in January 2016. Since then a temporary repair has allowed irrigation water to flow to the farms, orchards and vineyards in the southern Okanagan Valley. But a more permanent repair or replacement is needed.
The town had a commitment of help from the previous Liberal government in Victoria. But, said Hovanes, the “current coalition government” has not been able “to find a mechanism” to help pay for the multi-million-dollar project.
He said the town needs to target multiple provincial ministries plus the premier’s office with requests for funding. He also suggested inviting Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie to any meeting the town is able to arrange with Premier John Horgan.
Also high on the list of things Oliver officials will plump ministers for is the promised two-member increase to the local RCMP detachment. “We still haven’t received the additional two members,” said Hovanes, “and the detachment is taking calls at the prison.”
The pledge of two additional officers in Oliver followed the opening of the Okanagan Correctional Centre, which all parties agree has increased the demands on the Oliver detachment.
Council members are also looking forward to the discussions about the impending legalization of recreational use of marijuana.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week that October 17 will be the effective date. But administration of the rules around distribution and possession falls to the provinces and many of the headaches will be further passed to municipalities.
The September 10-14 gabfest will be the second for Horgan’s government, which was elected in May 2017.