As a long-time Kelowna resident served by the South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID), I was delighted to attend a ceremony March 17, which effectively announced the end of our all too frequent boil water advisories and brown water by integrating our system with that of the City of Kelowna at the total cost of $52.9 million.
This was made possible thanks to timely and effective cooperation among federal, provincial and local authorities, as was funding for other major water-related improvements to West Kelowna’s Rosevalley Water Treatment Plant ($49.4 million) and Lake Country’s Eldorado Treated Water Reservoir (7 million), all announced at the same time.
The funding formula for all three projects was 50% federal, 33% provincial, with the remaining 17% from local authorities. The total federal share was an impressive $54.6 million, secured from infrastructure funding.
Mayors Basran, Findlater and Baker made a point of strongly praising Kelowna-Lake Country MP, Stephen Fuhr, for successfully lobbying federal authorities for these timely major investments from the federal infrastructure program.
While these grants to improve local water infrastructure represent Steve Fuhr’s largest “win” for the Central Okanagan during his first eighteen months in Ottawa, my research has identified twenty-two other federal grants he has facilitated, worth an additional $27 million.
These grants, large and small, have made significant investments in the important work of such organizations as UBCO (20.6 million), Okanagan Water Basin Board (440K), YMCA (320K), and Canada summer jobs (620K).
Other recipients included Okanagan College, Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, City of Kelowna for Community Theatre upgrades, Homelessness Partnering Strategy and the Royal Canadian Legion. The federal infrastructure program provided the most dollars, but Steve also beat the bushes in Ottawa to come up with funds from such sources as Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Canadian Heritage; Ministry of Families, Children and Social Development; Ministry of Employment and the Ministry of Transport.
My calculation is that Steve Fuhr has brought a total of some $71.6 million to the Central Okanagan during his 18 months as MP for Kelowna-Lake Country—very impressive federal investments in our infrastructure, our social organizations, and our institutions of higher learning. This unprecedented infusion of federal funds will continue to be a great boost to our local jobs and our local economy.