By ROY WOOD
Pretty much the last thing Mayor Ron Hovanes wanted to do the morning after being defeated in his re-election bid was fly cross-country to drum up $5 million for the Gallagher Lake siphon repair.
But fly to Ottawa he did, to meet last Monday with infrastructure minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne and local MP Richard Cannings.
Hovanes will report the results of his trip at Tuesday’s council meeting, his last as mayor.
“It wasn’t the trip I wanted to make the day after the election. It was a really tough trip to make,” Hovanes said in an interview today. “(But) I walked away thinking there’s a very, very good chance that Ottawa (will) do something down the road.”
Hovanes said he met for an hour with Champagne and his staff trying to figure out a way to fund the replacement of section of the irrigation system that was damaged by a rock fall in January 2016.
A temporary fix has been in place since Spring 2016, but a permanent replacement is needed for the system that provides irrigation water from Okanagan Falls to the head of Osoyoos Lake.
The feds are looking at the Disaster Relief and Adaptation Fund, the Indigenous Services Agency and other possible avenues to find the money, said Hovanes. The town earlier received assurances of $5 million from the province, but it needs federal funds as well to pay for the replacement.
Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie joined the conversation from Oliver. “Chief Clarence as great on the phone,” said Hovanes. “I think we made a very strong presentation and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Hovanes finished 160 votes behind new-comer Martin Johansen in the October 20 election.
“My statement is that the electorate is always right,” Hovanes said today. “I was a little shocked and little numbed at the outcome. … But you know what? You’ve got to suck it up and go forward.”
He offered the line he said he’ll use at tomorrow’s meeting: “Everybody goes into this hoping they’re going to make a better community than the one they took over. … I believe there’s a better Oliver than there was fours years ago.
“Do you make mistakes? Sure you do. But, all in all, it’s been a remarkable experience. I thank the people of Oliver for the opportunity. … Maybe this wasn’t the end I wanted, but I’ve had a remarkable 16 years. … I feel pretty good about it.”