by Roy Wood
Still no federal funding for busted syphon
Frustration continues around the Oliver council table over the lack of help from Ottawa to pay for repair of the Gallagher Lake syphon section of the area’s agricultural irrigation system.
In a report to council this evening, chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan said officials in the federal ministries of public works and infrastructure continue to seek “mechanisms” through which they might provide funding.
She said, however, all avenues explored so far have ended in failure, mainly because federal programs for water infrastructure are aimed at potable water, not irrigation.
Councillor Dave Mattes said he is “disappointed … they say they are looking for mechanisms, but they haven’t done anything to help us.”
The syphon was destroyed by a rock slide in January 2016. A temporary fix has been in place to serve area agriculture.
The town has developed a plan for a large-scale diversion of the system around the Gallagher Lake section with a price tag of over $10 million.
The province has committed $5 million and Cowan said tonight she is seeking written confirmation about how long those funds will be available as the town struggles to get federal money.
Water Councillor Rick Machail also expressed his frustration this evening. He said as long ago as November 2017 that the town needs to be prepared to pay for the repair without federal help.
Cowan said tonight that she is in contact about every two weeks with officials in Ottawa. At a council meeting in November 2017, she said she hoped to hear something definitive from Ottawa “within six months.”
Firefighters eye two-storey training structure
Oliver council has endorsed a request from the fire department for funding that would see a structure similar to a two-storey home built at the airport training facility.
According to a report to council, the structure, built from four shipping containers, would mimic a typical two-storey home with a walk-out basement. Firefighters would enter an elevated container and “travel down a flight of stairs to … a lower elevation to locate and extinguish a fire.”
The funding would come from a Community Emergency Preparedness Fund grant, funded by the province and administered by the Union of BC Municipalities.
The project would not proceed unless it is fully funded through a grant.
Sister Cities program seeks $1,500 funding hike
Town staff will negotiate a new agreement with the Oliver Tourism Association (OTA) and make a budget recommendation to council after the group requested a $1,500 bump in annual funding for the Sister Cities programs.
Oliver is twinned with Lake Chelan, Washington and Bandai, Japan. The result is occasional visits to and from the sister cities, usually by groups of young people with chaperones.
The $1,500 request this evening from OTA secretary Melissa Fowler would help pay for the airline tickets for a group of 10 teenagers and two adult chaperones visiting Bandai.
Chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan pointed out that the tickets are the only significant cost, since the host cities look after accommodation and food once the delegations arrive.
The expired Sister Cities grant was for $3,500 a year.
Council endorses Albas’ looters amendment
Council tonight agreed to write a letter of support for MP Dan Albas and his private members bill that would impose more severe penalties on people convicted of looting during a natural disaster.
Albas is proposing an amendment to the Criminal Code creating an “aggravating factor” for looting cases that occur during a natural disaster.
He said this would require a judge in such a case to “designate a stiffer penalty for those who break the law and loot during these challenging situations.”
In a letter to council seeking support for his bill, the member for Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola said such legislation “would help provide peace of mind for citizens under an evacuation order … as they would know that the criminal justice system has their back.”