Okanagan Basin Water Study: One of Nine Community Projects to Receive Over $1.9 Million in Federal Gas Tax Funding



    KELOWNA, BC, Oct. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Several communities across British
Columbia will benefit from a total of $1.96 million in federal Gas Tax funding
for capacity building and Integrated Community Sustainability (ICS) projects.
As one of the recipients, the Okanagan Basin Water Board will receive $415,000
to study the supply and demand for water in the entire Okanagan Valley. Member
of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, Ron Cannan was pleased to make the
announcement today on behalf of Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities. He made the announcement along with Union of
British Columbia Municipalities (UBMC) President Susan Gimse, and Okanagan
Basin Water Board Chair John Slater.
    "In partnership with the Province of British Columbia and the Union of
British Columbia Municipalities, the Government continues to deliver on its
commitment to support sustainable communities," said Mr. Cannan. "I am
especially pleased with today's funding that the Okanagan Basin Water Board
will be able to move forward on planning that will provide long-term benefits
to residents across the region and to future generations."
    The objective of funding for capacity building and integrated community
sustainability planning (ICSP) is to improve the environmental, economic,
social and cultural sustainability of British Columbia's communities. Four
elements combine to provide a "sustainability lens" for local governments to
review all of its plans and planning activities. Gas tax funding applications
for capacity building and ICSPs are adjudicated on the basis of these four key
sustainability elements:

    
    -   Long-term thinking (to consider how factors vital to a community's
        well-being may change in coming decades);

    -   Broad in Scope (to examine sustainability issues in a range of
        social, economic, environmental and cultural areas);

    -   Integration with existing local government plans; and

    -   Collaboration (by engaging a wide range of community members, other
        local governments, First Nations, as well as partners in the for-
        profit and not for-profit sectors).
    

    "We are very pleased to have the support of the Government of Canada, the
Province of British Columbia and UBCM for this project which is critical for
the long-term sustainability of Okanagan water supplies. This is a very
positive move in the right direction for all residents of the Okanagan," said
Chair John Slater.
    "Planning grants are so important to a community's success," added Al
Horning, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. "I'm pleased that our government
partnership is supporting this study, working to ensure a sustainable water
system for the Okanagan Valley."
    "All local governments are adapting to changes in our climate, our
economy and local demographics," said UBCM President Gimse. "Funding to build
local government capacity and undertake ICS planning will produce long-term
benefits for BC communities."
    The other communities that are receiving funding through today's
announcement are: Kamloops, Merritt (2 projects), Coldstream, Sooke, Cowichan
Valley Regional District, Campbell River, and Harrison Hot Springs. Project
summaries and funding totals are provided in the background statement
(attached).

    The Government of Canada is providing $635.6 million to British Columbia
from 2005 to 2010 through the Gas Tax Agreement. In Budget 2007, and as part
of its $33 billion "Building Canada" plan, the Government of Canada extended
Gas Tax funding by an additional $2 billion per year nationally, from 2010 to
2014. Gas Tax funding is available to local governments for projects that
contribute to environmental sustainability, and in particular, infrastructure
projects that lead to cleaner air, cleaner water or the reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions. The Gas Tax Fund is administered in BC by UBCM.
    For more information on the Canada - BC - UBCM Gas Tax Agreement, visit
www.civicnet.bc.ca or www.infc.gc.ca


    
                                 Background:
     Capacity Building and Integrated Community Sustainability Planning
                               (ICSP) Projects
    

    The Canada - BC - UBCM Agreement on the Transfer of Federal Gas Tax
Revenues (GTA) delivers federal funding to local governments and other
eligible recipients for infrastructure projects that contribute to three key
environmental objectives: reduced greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner air and
cleaner water.
    The GTA also provides funds to local governments and eligible recipients
for capacity building projects, including Integrated Community Sustainability
(ICS) planning.
    Capacity building projects are defined in the GTA as "activities that
strengthen the ability of local governments to develop and implement
integrated community sustainability planning." Capacity building includes
activities that support elements of integrated planning such as public
consultation and computer modeling as well as activities that are necessary to
implement a plan, including permitting and development approvals.
    ICS planning is defined as "long-term planning, in consultation with
community members, that provides direction for the community to realize
sustainability objectives it has for the environmental, cultural, social and
economic dimensions of its identity." Funding for ICS planning assists the
development of a long-term, comprehensive sustainability vision that builds
upon the robust sustainability planning undertaken by local governments in BC.

    
    Today's funding announcement will provide funding for 9 capacity building
and ICSP projects in BC:

    -   Okanagan Basin Water Board - $415,890 for a Water Supply - Demand
        Study

    This project will study water supply and demand for the entire Okanagan
    Valley and will form the basis for future decision making. This project
    will attempt to measure all water inputs and outputs in the region, and
    how these will be affected by climate change, land use and population
    growth. The study will contribute to the development of a model that will
    forecast the impacts of actions by any one community upon other
    communities in the valley.

    -   Kamloops - $605,500 for an ICS Plan

    This project will develop a comprehensive environmental plan that will
    identify the key environmental issues facing Kamloops. The new
    environmental plan will be integrated with parallel social and economic
    plans to ensure that the objectives of each are mutually supportive. The
    completed plan will incorporate Smart Growth principles and provide a
    basis for managing the airshed, transportation network, stormwater
    drainage, riparian and greenway areas, and energy efficiency standards
    for buildings.

    -   Merritt - $85,000 for an Integrated Growth Strategy

    Merritt's strategy will provide a decision-making framework to guide
    growth over a period of 20+ years. The strategy will incorporate triple
    bottom line thinking to ensure economic, environmental and social
    sustainability and be undertaken in collaboration with neighbouring local
    governments and First Nations communities.

    -   Merritt - $250,000 for an Integrated Source Water Program

    Merritt's water supply is from a near surface aquifer that has been
    classified as "heavily developed and vulnerable". The funding provided
    will integrate a number of prior studies to better understand and protect
    the various aquifers in the region. The study will provide direction to
    Merritt's major planning documents and a framework for the continual
    evaluation of source water to ensure water quality and aquifer
    sustainability.

    -   Coldstream - $150,000 for a Sustainability Initiative

    The project will draw information from existing roadway, bicycle and
    pedestrian master plans as well as the community's stormwater, water and
    sewer plans to develop integrated maps. By establishing new
    sustainability principles, an integrated infrastructure mapping system,
    and permit guidelines for sensitive ecosystem development, this project
    will impact all future developments and capital projects in Coldstream.
    The project will be undertaken in collaboration with the general public,
    interest groups, government agencies and other local governments.

    -   Sooke - $100,000 for a Liquid Waste Management Plan

    This project will develop the first stand alone Stormwater Liquid Waste
    Management Plan in BC. The plan will support the development of
    stormwater infrastructure that will sustain the health of watercourses
    and the near shore marine environment. By incorporating watershed-based
    approaches, the plan will contribute to the protection of Sooke's 14 fish
    bearing streams.

    -   Cowichan Valley Regional District - $255,000 for Floodplain Mapping
        and development of an Integrated Flood Plan

    This project will bring together Cowichan Valley Regional District,
    Duncan, North Cowichan and local First Nations to coordinate floodplain
    management for the region. The project will enhance current levels of
    flood protection, safeguard the operations of a sewage treatment plant in
    the floodplain, and provide a model that will estimate the effects of
    residential and agricultural development on fish habitats over the next
    20 years.

    -   Campbell River - $75,000 for Quinsam Heights/Nunn's Creek Smart
        Growth Implementation Strategy

    The funding provided to Campbell River will assist the implementation of
    a Smart Growth strategy in an infill area anticipated to support a
    significant proportion of the city's population growth over the next 20
    years. The project will focus on stakeholder communication and
    administrative delivery systems to encourage the creation of a compact,
    complete and energy efficient community that incorporates green
    infrastructure and integrated rainwater management.

    -   Harrison Hot Springs - $25,000 for ICS Planning

    This project will deliver a Servicing Strategy document that will
    facilitate the incorporation of ICS principles in infrastructure planning
    activities with particular reference to water and wastewater
    infrastructure development.
    




For further information:

For further information: Media Contacts: Karine White, Press Secretary,
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure And Communities, (613)
948-1148; Marc Black, Communications Manager, Ministry of Community Services,
(250) 356-2938; Paul Taylor, Relationships and Communications Advisor, Union
of BC Municipalities, (250) 356-2938; Anna Warwick Sears, Executive Director,
Okanagan Basin Water Board, (250) 550-3779


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