Recent History – 2001
Dec 19, 2001
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Dawson Creek is one of 15 B.C. communities that will receive a major financial boost through the Canada-B.C. infrastructure program.
The city will receive about $1.25 million to be spent on improvements to the water system. The total cost of the project is $2 million with each of the federal, provincial and municipal governments contributing one-third.
Federal Environment Minister David Anderson said the arrangement flies in the face of allegations made in some quarters that the program amounts to porkbarrelling.
“The Alliance doesn’t approve of this, but our belief is that infrastructure which federal, provincial and municipal governments agree to is good for the community,” he said. “If you don’t have good water, I think your economic opportunities in that community are limited.”
Federal Liberal constituency association president Arleene Thorpe said the announcement is proof of what can happen when the levels of government work together.
“In this day and age, unless you partnership with people, nothing really happens,” she said.
The work includes improvements to the river intake, rehabilitation of the pipes at the reservoir, installation of water-quality monitoring devices, new filtration equipment and construction of a closed storage reservoir.
The work will upgrade a system that already provides good quality drinking water according to the city. It’s expected that the project will be completed by 2003, and environmental assessments will be completed to finalize funding.
Mayor Wayne Dahlen welcomed the news.
“I will continue to work with all levels of government to further enhance the city’s infrastructure, beautification and developments within the city,” he said. “This is just one positive step in the future development of the City of Dawson Creek.”
The process of securing the money began back when Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom was Dawson Creek’s mayor.
“We would have to do it anyway, it was in the capital plan for the city, but anytime you can share the cost with the other two levels of government that’s a good thing,” he said.
Lekstrom said it’s one of the better programs to have been developed, particularly since many local governments can’t afford the up front cost for such projects without some help from Victoria and Ottawa.
The federal Liberals have launched a new infrastructure program as part of the latest budget announcement. But Anderson said it will be for larger projects like the proposed Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre.
The money Dawson Creek received came from the earlier infrastructure program, which was part of Budget 2000, and which is spread out over five years.
In all, $805 million is available to B.C. through the program over five years, but applications worth four times that amount have been received.
Anderson said that Dawson Creek’s application was chosen because water-related proposals from rural communities were preferred. All 15 projects that were approved were water and sewer related.
Anderson said the events in Walkerton, Ontario, where an E. coli outbreak killed several people, had a big influence in supporting rural water projects.