Small communities grant benefits RDOS

Regional District Okanagan Similkameen gets grant funds for sewer extension

An infusion of federal cash is letting a long awaited project in the South Okanagan move ahead. Nearly $10 million of infrastructure funding is earmarked to work on extending sewer services to Skaha Estates and Kaleden, split between the Regional District South Okanagan-Similkameen, and the federal and provincial governments.

Each of the partners is investing about $3.3 million, for a total of $9,909,336. It’s part of a joint funding announcement from the Small Communities fund of over $87 million for 26 new infrastructure projects in 26 communities throughout the province.

Bill Newell, chief administrative officer for the RDOS, said they are glad to get the $6.6 million in funding, which will cover the Skaha Estates portion of the project, connecting it to the Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment plant.

“We’ve had this project on the books for quite a few years, but it hasn’t gone anywhere,” said Newell. The potential concept was first mentioned in the 1988 Waste Management Plan, and in 2013 was ranked as a high priority by the RDOS board of directors.

A previous application to the Small Communities Fund, in 2014, was unsuccessful. Homes in Skaha Estates, off Eastside Road, are currently using septic fields. “We are concerned about the environment,” said Newell. “Seepage into the lakes is always a concern.”

Under the funding agreement, the regional district has until March 2020 to finish the project. Newell said they will still have to gain assent of the affected property owners, and create a detailed design for the new system.

“When public infrastructure in many of our smaller communities is in need of repair or upgrade, the high costs associated are often difficult for a community alone to bear,” said Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure in Maple Ridge Monday.

Other community infrastructure projects getting funding include green energy systems, solid waste management, drinking water, wastewater management, highways, roads, bridges, disaster mitigation, regional airport improvements and broadband access.