For Immediate ReleaseSeptember 28, 2016
WEST KELOWNA UBCM MEETING NEWS
On September 28, at the Union of BC Municipalities convention, members of West Kelowna Council met with BC’s Finance Minister, to discuss a Provincial Sales Tax (PST) exemption on municipal projects, and BC Hydro, to get an update on the West Kelowna Transmission Project. West Kelowna reps also joined the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RCDO) in its meeting with BC’s Environment Minister to discuss biosolids.
West Kelowna Council is attending the UBCM convention in Victoria this week and members are provided with short face-to-face meetings with provincial government representatives. On Wednesday, September 28, Council members met with:
Hon. Michael de Jong, Minister of Finance, to discuss the City’s interest in seeing municipalities exempt from paying the PST on critical infrastructure projects. This is also the subject of a resolution put forward by the City of West Kelowna for consideration by the UBCM membership.
“I would say he found it to be a very interesting idea,” says Mayor Doug Findlater. ”Obviously the province is looking at the revenue side of things with PST, but we made our case.”
BC Hydro representatives to get an update on the West Kelowna Transmission Project and whether a location has been identified for the line, which will provide backup power security for West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Peachland.
“We got a very good briefing on the status of the project. They are starting to narrow down the options and are very close to taking some off the table,” says Mayor Findlater. “They have done a detailed wildfire risk analysis of the options, and they are still saying that their best case scenario is that we’ll have a second transmission line in place by 2020.”
West Kelowna representatives also joined representatives of RDCO, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and Peachland to meet with BC’s Environment Minister Mary Polak to discuss biosolids and the difficulty with finding appropriate locations for disposal of the biosolids for this area.
“We were advised that the province is making progress with the review of the Organic Matter Recycling Regulations and told us there would be an announcement in the coming months,” says Mayor Findlater.
Mayor Findlater attended the Mayors’ Caucus meeting Monday morning which featured an address from Hon. Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and advised that Premier Christy Clark spoke to the delegates Wednesday.
“We heard a few messages, first at the Mayors’ Caucus, and then from the Premier that infrastructure funding would be coming to municipalities,” says Mayor Findlater. “We heard repeatedly that water and wastewater projects would have priority, and I know West Kelowna Council will be discussing how to accelerate our Water Master Plan projects to take advantage of this.”
Following is the City of West Kelowna’s resolution submission:
WHEREAS local governments within the Province of British Columbia are responsible for essential infrastructure in areas such as water, sewer and storm sewer mains as well as roads;
AND WHEREAS these critical infrastructures, which were constructed years ago using a dollar which had a greater purchasing power, are subject to provincial health and safety regulations which require local governments to upgrade or replace the infrastructure despite limited funds and grant opportunities:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Union of BC Municipalities lobby the Ministry of Finance to provide a provincial sales tax exemption on the upgrade or replacement of local government infrastructure projects.