As the Nov. 15 municipal election approaches, the Summerland Review is asking questions of the five candidates for mayor and 16 councillor candidates.
This week’s question: Which infrastructure project should be the next construction priority for Summerland?
Summerland is in deep financial difficulty.
After rescinding the Agricultural Land Reserve land swap proposal, the council should look to the roads.
Over the last month I have driven most of them and placed a number from 1 (the most in need) to 10 (the least in need.)
Since Summerland has only a pothole program, and since on Aug. 25 the council gave away $60,000 for beautification of the Okanagan Regional Library, I discovered online many asphalt paving machines at approximately $40,000.
In conjunction with a winter school trades program where students could work on the machine, a spring practicum opportunity followed by full-time summer employment, our pothole workers could leave the potholes and start paving.
Some of the worst roads identified and rated as No. 1: Blair Street, Washington Avenue, McDougald Road, Matsu Drive, Slater Road, to name a few.
I wonder if anyone else could suggest pothole havens other than Garnet Valley and Switchback?
Other infrastructure projects must wait until the all new council has an opportunity to consult, listen ask and reflect the will of the people of Summerland — anything less would be in my opinion foolishness.
Providing treated water to Garnett Valley is already in the works.
Currently our reserve funds are not very large.
We should be cautious when there are limited reserves, in the event of an unexpected need which demands attention.
A weakness of councils, including mine, is that we have not been more proactive and actively pursued available grants.
We need to focus on this more.
Certain available grants from senior government could define which future infrastructure project we consider.
Public safety should always be a priority.
Additional road improvements and sidewalks surrounding our schools and senior facilities must be considered.
This would include Jubilee Road East and Quinpool Road.
Improving roads such as Quinpool will be very expensive. Funding for these projects could come from the Federal Gas Tax Fund.
I have continued being an advocate for twinning our water system.
Eighty per cent of our water is used by our agricultural industry.
Treatment has continued to escalate yearly at a major cost to the users.
Twinning our system provides untreated water to the agricultural user.
Garnett Valley is the remaining major area to complete and will enable us not only to twin, but do road and infrastructure enhancement to the entire area.
This is a major undertaking and will require Provincial and Federal support, being pursued through the Gas Tax Grant.
Our mayor and council members met with Premier Clark and ministers at the UBCM in September, as was done last year specifically for this project.
The Premier was very responsive to our concerns and we feel the project will be supported.
Support funding is our only option of completing this $4.5 million infrastructure upgrade. It must be done.
While talking to the residents of Summerland it has become apparent that the Garnett Valley water separation project and the paving of Garnett Valley Road have become a major priority that the District of Summerland needs to address.
At the same time I will request the creation of a master plan for Parks and Recreation for the entire District of Summerland.
I am a believer in forward thinking concepts such as bike paths on all newly built roadways in order to encourage fitness and bring visitors to our beautiful and vibrant community.
Water separation or twinning of agricultural water and domestic water for Garnett Valley residents is critical to meet Interior Health domestic water quality standards and needs to be the next infrastructure project.
Currently the water supply for residents is only chlorinated and is not of the same standard as that coming from our water treatment facility.
Therefore our high quality domestic lines have to be extended to Garnett Valley and the Garnett Valley system needs to be retained and extended for irrigation purposes.
The financial requirements are approximately $4,250,000 for the new water main, service connections, and booster station as well as road restoration.
A major plus is that Garnett Valley Road which is in a terribly deteriorated state would be rebuilt.
At the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings we made a strong case for funding.
We met with Premier Clark, Minister Lake, Minister Coralee Oakes and Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick.
Summerland is close to getting the necessary provincial funding assistance to twin the water lines in Garnet Valley which will have the added benefit of repaving and straightening Garnet Valley Road.
This is clearly the next infrastructure project for Summerland.
However, I have found out from current council members that plans for this project do not include adding a bicycle lane.
This is a major oversight!
On a narrow windy road such as Garnet Valley, a bicycle lane is essential for safety and very important from a recreational/tourism point of view.
If we do not include a bicycle lane while the road is dug up for the water lines, we will never have one in our lifetime.
It is also important to have invested enough time, money and effort to have on hand “shovel ready” projects to take advantage of provincial and federal government funding programs when they are announced.
I feel I would need to be a current council member to have all the information I would require to provide an informed response to this question.
As an elected municipal official, however, I will do the necessary research by speaking to staff and others, perusing documentation, and taking into consideration the thoughts held by those I serve.
This is a question that will require a range of expert opinion, consultation with community groups and careful analysis by council.
I would like to explore other potential funding streams for some of our infrastructure needs, provincial, riparian, a variety of grants as well as some new monies in support of climate change and energy shifts.
Most importantly, we must remember to live within our means.
Infrastructure projects are expensive and we rely on the senior levels of governments for grants.
Those grants are generally available for “shovel ready” projects.
District staff has identified visible projects such as improving Garnett Valley Road and Giant’s Head Road which are waiting for enough money to twin the water supply at the same time.
Sewers are the key to making smaller affordable building lots available, and I would make expanding the sewer system a priority.
A short list of projects should be maintained, so that when grant money is available, Summerland as a community can undertake the one that makes the most sense at that time.
In the meanwhile, financial reserves need to be re-built to match grant money when it is offered.
Response unavailable by press time.
Once I have a sense of our financial obligations, capital reserves, borrowing capacity, available grants, and an understanding of the urgency of our needs, I will then be in a position to identify our next construction priority.
I am aware of the Canyon View Road situation, the condition of Garnett Valley Road, and am also interested in exploring the potential for separating our domestic-use water from our irrigation water.
As councillor, I will be willing to entertain other suggestions and consider the entirety of our needs and how they will benefit our town as a whole.
I have no “pet projects” and can promise absolute objectivity with respect to our infrastructure.
The Garnett Valley Water Separation project is the most important out of a list of many, many very important projects right now.
Rarely does a single project address such a broad range of issues: Improved residential water safety, increased water availability for agricultural use, flood mitigation, and the safety and condition of one of B.C.’s worst roads.
Accomplishing this project with the help of provincial grant efforts will see significant and broad impacts to the District far beyond the residents of Garnett Valley.
That is why I, with many other members of district staff and council have advocated aggressively to the provincial government to make this a top priority for grant funding.
This must continue to be a focus and priority for the future council and I will be there as a strong voice on behalf of Summerland, ensuring our community receives its fair share of federal and provincial funding.
There are a myriad of infrastructure projects that need to be done in our community, but it is all about trying to get the most in grant money from the two senior levels of government.
At the moment, the most important one is the twinning of the water system in the Garnett Valley area, along with road improvements, while the water improvements are being done.
This will take some more pressure off of the water treatment plant and provide a more reliable source of water to the residents of Garnett Valley, as well as for safer travel.
The other project that may not wait for a grant, is the sinking roadway on Canyon View Road.
This is a problem that has been around for a while, but is getting to the point where something needs to be done, sooner than later.
We can’t keep spending money impulsively like there’s no tomorrow but cutting capital budgets for short-term cost savings will result in long-term expenses.
Upgrading recreational and cultural facilities (swimming pool, Trout Creek bike/foot path, arts centre, a second ice sheet at the rink, etc.) are all desirable and legitimate projects.
Prioritizing each one will require careful planning. We need an economic development plan, a downtown revitalization plan, a new recreation master plan, and a community cultural strategy.
All strategizing will require public engagement and out of the consultations and planning will come our project priorities and timescales.
The availability of provincial or federal funding for specific projects will also have an impact on priorities.
We also need to look for opportunities to develop cost-sharing partnerships with businesses and community organizations, such as the school board to build a school/community gym or running track around the high school playing field.
A safe and reliable domestic water supply should be available to all residents.
I am currently a representative on the Okanagan Water Stewardship Board, and I can testify Summerland’s water system is an envy of the Okanagan.
The Garnett Valley system, however, has been plagued with problems.
I believe the citizens of Summerland who live in Garnett Valley deserve that same high quality of water that the rest of Summerland receive.
There needs to be concerted effort from council/staff/community to lobby senior government to get assistance for the Garnet Valley and associated development lands water upgrades.
B.C. Ministry of Health sets the water guidelines, Interior Health enforces them, the municipalities must do the work to meet those guidelines and find the resources to pay for that work.
I would want to know what research, studies or strategic planning has been done to identify projects.
The twinning of the water lines in Garnett Valley and thereafter improvements on the roads is one and the roof on the arena or improvements to the pool may all be possibilities.
The current construction on Main Street is the most important infrastructure project in Summerland at this moment.
Tourism is important to the city and the downtown is the face of the city. It should be organized and tidy.
The hospital is something that Summerland needs.
Driving to Penticton to wait for four hours to get an x-ray is too long, and if you need a blood test on top of that it may take you all day.
There are more people than there is hospital time.
At one point, Summerland had a hospital, and now the population has increased.
Opening the old hospital again would be nice as it takes 30 minutes to get to Penticton. And it would create a few jobs as well.
As I am not a councillor (yet!) I am not yet fully aware of all the infrastructure improvements needed in our community.
Some of the improvements I know we need are road repairs, transformers replaced and SADI updates.
In addition, our arena needs repairs and updates.
It seems to me, this will be a challenge and great opportunity for the new council and mayor. I hope this includes me!
There are hundreds of pages of reports and studies on all sorts of projects and improvements needed in Summerland.
Some are higher priority than others.
We need to balance that against the finite amount of tax dollars available to maintain all these systems.
I look forward to the input of municipal staff, the population of Summerland and my fellow councillors should I be elected.
I want to make sure that we are maintaining our systems, and we have sufficient money budgeted to do that.
Once we look after what we have, then we can consider what we should add.
District staff has identified several projects that are top priorities – some of which are already in the early planning stages.
These include: Garnett Valley Road and Water Separation project, Garnett Valley Dam upgrades, improvements to Giant’s Head Road (repaving) and Canyon View Road (investigate slippage), and construction of the new skateboard park.
We should move forward with these projects as provincial and federal grant money becomes available.
Summerland also needs to upgrade its recreational facilities and develop a revised recreation plan.
I would support conducting a citizen survey to learn what recreation priorities are important to residents.
Martin Van Alphen
The water twinning system in Garnett Valley must be our next infrastructure project as it has been identified as this council’s No. 1 priority.
This would give Garnett valley residents treated water and in turn would free up more allocations for agricultural water use while alleviating the pressure on our treatment facilities during peak times.
Two years ago, council went to UBCM and I presented to the premier and her colleagues this proposal.
This year at UBCM Mayor Perrino and council met again with the same group and presented the project resulting in, I hope, an encouraging outcome.