Wetland project moving forward

Wetland project will further filter effluent from the Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant

It was a cut and dry decision for Area D alternate Tom Styffe to commit money from the area’s gas tax fund to a wetland project that when built will further filter effluent from the Okanagan Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The discharge from the plant is released about a kilometre upstream from Vaseux Lake.

Related: Wetland could be funded through gas tax funds

Styffe made the recommendation to pull $700,000 from his area’s Community Works gas tax fund to ensure the project went forward during Thursday’s Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen meeting.

Styffe is sitting in for Area D director Tom Siddon, but assured fellow directors the two men had talked and they were in full agreement to direct the funds to the project.

“It was always the intention to go ahead with the wetland filtration, so it’s my pleasure to see this project move forward,” Styffe said.

The decision leaves just $263,205 in Area D’s gas tax fund. The fund is used for infrastructure related projects.

Neighbouring Area directors’ Terry Schaefer (Area C, Oliver Rural) and Mark Pendergraft (Area A, Osoyoos Rural) offered funding to the project if needed but made no formal commitment during Thursday’s meeting.

The full cost of the wetland is estimated at about $1 million. The remaining money will come from a 2012 Regionally Significant Project Funds grant that’s set to expire in 2018.

Depending on provincial Ministry of Environment requirements a liner might be needed for the wetland, which could cost up to an additional $450,000.

The outstanding wetland project became contentious at the board’s meeting two weeks ago when staff recommended the $360,000 Regionally Significant grant be redirect to complete pre-design work on the Skaha Estates sewer extension work.

During that meeting CAO Bill Newell and Siddon publicly went back and forth on the issue with the director taking exception for being “left out of the loop.”

Newell fired back that he took exception to RDOS staff being bullied and threatened over the phone by the director.

The wetland project could not move forward unless full funding was committed.

The development of the wetland has been on the books since the development of the Okanagan Falls Sewage Treatment Plant back in 2005.

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