Okanagan Basin Water Study: One of Nine Community Projects to Receive Over $1.9 Million in Federal Gas Tax Funding

October 29, 2007

Kelowna, British Columbia, October 26, 2007 – Several communities across British Columbia will benefit from a total of $1.96 million in federal gas tax funding for capacity building and Integrated Community Sustainability (ICS) projects. As one of the recipients, the Okanagan Basin Water Board will receive $415,000 to study the supply and demand for water in the entire Okanagan Valley. Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, Ron Cannan was pleased to make the announcement today on behalf of Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. He made the announcement along with Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBMC) President Susan Gimse, and Okanagan Basin Water Board Chair John Slater.

“In partnership with the Province of British Columbia and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the Government continues to deliver on its commitment to support sustainable communities,” said Mr. Cannan. “I am especially pleased with today’s funding that the Okanagan Basin Water Board will be able to move forward on planning that will provide long-term benefits to residents across the region and to future generations.”

The objective of funding for capacity building and integrated community sustainability planning (ICSP) is to improve the environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability of British Columbia’s communities. Four elements combine to provide a “sustainability lens” for local governments to review all of its plans and planning activities. Gas tax funding applications for capacity building and ICSPs are adjudicated on the basis of these four key sustainability elements:

  • Long-term thinking (to consider how factors vital to a community’s well-being may change in coming decades);

  • Broad in Scope (to examine sustainability issues in a range of social, economic, environmental and cultural areas);

  • Integration with existing local government plans; and

  • Collaboration (by engaging a wide range of community members, other local governments, First Nations, as well as partners in the for-profit and not for-profit sectors).

“We are very pleased to have the support of the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and UBCM for this project which is critical for the long-term sustainability of Okanagan water supplies. This is a very positive move in the right direction for all residents of the Okanagan,” said Chair John Slater.

“Planning grants are so important to a community’s success,” added Al Horning, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “I’m pleased that our government partnership is supporting this study, working to ensure a sustainable water system for the Okanagan Valley.”

“All local governments are adapting to changes in our climate, our economy and local demographics,” said UBCM President Gimse. “Funding to build local government capacity and undertake ICS planning will produce long-term benefits for BC communities.”

The other communities that are receiving funding through today’s announcement are: Kamloops, Merritt (2 projects), Coldstream, Sooke, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Campbell River, and Harrison Hot Springs. Project summaries and funding totals are provided in the background statement.

The Government of Canada is providing $635.6 million to British Columbia from 2005 to 2010 through the Gas Tax Agreement. In Budget 2007, and as part of its $33 billion “Building Canada” plan, the Government of Canada extended Gas Tax funding by an additional $2 billion per year nationally, from 2010 to 2014. Gas Tax funding is available to local governments for projects that contribute to environmental sustainability, and in particular, infrastructure projects that lead to cleaner air, cleaner water or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Gas Tax Fund is administered in BC by UBCM.

For more information on the Canada – BC – UBCM Gas Tax Agreement, visit http://www.civicnet.bc.ca/ or http://www.infc.gc.ca/.