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Similkameen directors succeed in getting water monitoring project on gas tax funding list

The regional district board of directors had a lengthy discussion surrounding project selections to be submitted in gas tax funding applications.

The Gas Tax Agreement (GTA) provides funds for eligible local governments through two main programs, the Allocated Funding and the Pooled Funding. The Pooled funding programs include the Regionally Significant Projects, General Strategic Priorities Fund (GSPF) and Innovations Fund (IF).

The GSPF and IF are intended to fund the full range of eligible projects under the GTA. The GSPF program is directed towards projects “larger in scale or regional in impact” and the IF program is directed towards projects that represent an innovative approach to achieving the desired outcomes.

There are two categories of program under each of the GSPF and IF called  Capital Projects and Capacity Building Projects. These are currently accepting applications for funding.

Capital projects produce tangible capital assets that are primarily for public use or benefit, that improve the quality of the environment and contribute to reduced GHG emissions, cleaner water or cleaner air. (i.e. public transit, active transportation infrastructure, community energy, water, wastewater and solid waste).

Capacity building includes long term plans for a community that recognizes the interconnected dimensions of environmental, social, cultural and economic development for planning sustainable communities. The funding program aims to let communities address their current and future needs, including their infrastructure requirements.

The directors looked at a list of possible projects that had been previously selected by staff. They included the following items:

- Olalla Water Distribution System Upgrades

-Naramata Water System Generators/Back-up Power.

-Gallagher Lake Sanitary Sewers.

- Skaha Lake & Kaleden Lakeshore Sanitary Sewers.

- Apex Circle Water Distribution System.

- KVR Trail Improvements - Penticton to Naramata 14 km, Princeton to Coalmont 18 km, and extending to Osprey Lake.

- Adra Tunnel Improvements.

Staff made the reviews using criteria that involved such things as:

- Regional extent of the project.

- Improvements to public health and safety.

- Chances of funding success.

- RDOS plan compatibility.

- Urgency.

- Environmental health.

The four projects selected for final recommendation by the board were shortlisted to the following:

- Skaha Estates & Kaleden Lakeshore Sewering - Phase 1 in the GSPF - Capital Projects Program for $4,250,000;

- Parks/Trails Master Plan in the GSPF - Capacity Building & Icsp Projects Program for $120,000;

- Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant Wetlands Enhancement in the IF - Capital Projects Program for $1,000,000; and

- Aquifer Vulnerability Study - Phase 2 in the IF - Capacity Building & Icsp Projects Program for $55,000.

Some confusion over gas tax programs and funding initiated the discussions by the board, as there exist two different types of gas tax funding - alloted and pooled gas tax funds.The two types of funding being discussed by the board included to funds under the pooled gas tax funds category.

Directors expressed concerns over the short time frame given for selection of the projects, with several directors wishing to reprioritize the list of projects to reflect important projects in their areas.

Naramata Area “E” director Tom Chapman felt that there was too much emphasis on projects in Area “D, “ indicating that he was not comfortable with that.

An effort made by Area “B” director George Hanson to have the Similkameen Valley Water Monitoring Project moved onto the final list of projects for application proved successful. He and the other Similkameen directors were able to convince the others that the project was shovel ready and met all criteria demanded by the program in order to have the best chance for selection by the province. (SVWMP is currently waiting for the results of a consultant’s study before moving forward.)

Several directors expressed displeasure with the process by which  gas tax funding was distributed, commenting that improvements needed to be made next time around.


The administrative recommendation was amended to remove the trails master plan project and replace it with the Similkameen Valley Water Monitoring Project, and subsequently passed by the board.