Significant funds for North Okanagan wastewater infrastructure projects were announced at Armstrong City Hall Thursday, June 29.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang visited city hall to announce the province is providing a combined $24 million for two wastewater projects in the area.
A total of $14.5 million is going to Armstrong to upgrade its wastewater infrastructure to meet regulatory compliance and integrate its system with the regional North Okanagan wastewater system.
The province is also providing $9.5 million to the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) to expand community sewer service to parts of electoral areas that currently rely on septic systems.
“This is a diverse and growing region, and our government recognizes that infrastructure must be upgraded and enhanced in order to meet the demands that come with increased populations,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
Minister Kang said investments in infrastructure such as this are needed to create a healthier environment for communities.
“Our province is growing, we know that and we see that, and we hear that from our local government,” Kang said.
Armstrong Mayor Joe Cramer said ensuring the city’s wastewater system meets regulatory and environmental requirements is a priority of council.
“The province took the time to listen to our concerns and it is reassuring that together we will be striving to implement improvements to ensure regional wastewater recovery program is delivered,” Cramer said.
RDNO Area B director Bob Fleming noted the project is a partnership between the Okanagan Indian Band, Electoral Areas B and C and the Township of Spallumcheen, but added Armstrong could also take part in the project once its system has been upgraded.
In terms of the timeline for the project, Fleming said he expects the necessary documents will go to tender by the middle of July, and if everything works out, construction could begin as early as this fall.
Fleming added there will be environmental benefits that the project provides, as aging septic infrastructure on the east side of Swan Lake was “clearly affecting” the lake, according to studies done by the RDNO.
The project will also provide an agricultural boost, as it will use treated water to irrigate “hundreds of acres” of land that currently does not get watered, according to Fleming.
The hope is that the project will also pave the way for development.
“The Swan Lake commercial corridor is underdeveloped for the most part because it lacked community sewer. This solves that, and we expect that there will be a significant amount of development in that area and all the other areas that this project supports,” Fleming said.