Share the wealth

I don’t go looking for inequities in delivery or expectation of services for tax dollars, but I come across situations wherein I come to be at a loss for a way to explain that which I have discovered. I point to certain inequities pertaining to funding available for the protection of water. My attentions were piqued when I took a look at the application process to the Okanagan Basin Water Board Conservation and Quality Improvement Grant initiative and the list of applicants.

There are a total of five RDOS initiatives (Faulder water meters, Aquifer Vulnerability Study – Phase 2, Naramata’s Hart Pond fencing, Naramata Water Conservation Ambassador and Naramata’s Commercial Water metering) which are proposed and/or endorsed by the RDOS board requesting funding. The requests total $107,000 of an available $65,700. This amounts to nearly 200 per cent of the available funds. The RDOS has previously received grant money from the OBWB to get at least one of these initiatives started in its earlier stage, and in my estimation this is a governmental body returning to the cash cow for more free milk.

In comparison, the RDOS board chooses to ‘support’ five separate initiatives (Kaleden Irrigation District Agricultural Demand Reduction Strategy, Oliver Area Communities in Bloom Water Wise Gardening Manual, En’owkin Centre Water Education Project, Lion’s Park at OK Falls Xeriscape and Twin Lakes’ LNID request for Waterway Fencing) which total $76,800 and have an area of distribution of funding which more equitably represents the real and immediate water concerns and project initiatives of resident groups from a wider spectrum covering a broader area.

The point to me is that there are some initiatives which are presented by the RDOS which are either already mandated to be done by them as an authority, or which would seem to be solely the responsibility of the RDOS whether funding were available or not. So the exercise of diminishing the likely access to necessary funding by community groups is well diminished as a result of the intentions of the RDOS to access these same monies. Why, if any or all of these initiatives are important to the RDOS, have they not budgeted for them with the funds transferred to them by the provincial and/or federal governments?

I acknowledge that the rules permit for municipalities to request funding, but as an authority with an evidently dual personality of advocate and competitor for funding, aren’t they undermining the efforts of the groups which they already have the power to assist or not? That reeks of double jeopardy.

In the Twin Lakes application for fencing to keep cattle out of a waterway, the applicants clearly offered ‘sweat equity’ labour to complement their efforts to protect and preserve. It could be cost factored, but ultimately the offer itself is more precious than the grant money, because it’s people working together for a common beneficial goal. Their efforts will even result in better water at the golf course. Who doesn’t want that?

Come on RDOS, what improved or diminished chance do you think the homeowner/taxpayers of the Twin Lakes area have to access the small amount of available OBWB funds? These limited funds which are requested would aid in long-term protection of surface and groundwater quality, as would the application for Naramata’s Hart Pond, vs. the ‘infrastructure hardware’ that you, or individuals in water restricted areas, or commercial enterprises would seem responsible for and are applying for grant money to get done.

We need your support, yes, but not your competition.

Stephen Brown





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