Nancy Cooper is unhappy with the province’s three-year freeze on new public transit spending.
The Salmon Arm mayor was also unimpressed with B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s explanation for the freeze, shared with delegates at the recent Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) in Kamloops.
After discussing the province’s 10-year-transportation plan, Cooper said the minister was asked by SILGA attendees to explain the reason for the funding freeze with BC Transit.
“He talked a long time, a very long answer, but basically it got down to the Province of B.C. is committed to balancing their budget,” said Cooper.
Though she understands the importance of a balanced budget, Cooper also sees a Catch-22 for the economy with the government unwilling to support new, needed transit routes.
“How do we expand and how do we do the things people would like us to do?” said Cooper. “We’re talking about even buses out to the industrial park, so people can get out to jobs, people can get out to the trades training centre. We’ll have to do something creative I guess here.”
Salmon Arm also got an strong voice on SILGA with Coun. Chad Eliason being acclaimed as the new president of the association.
The SILGA convention did provide numerous educational and networking opportunities for Salmon Arm’s mayor and councillors. Cooper said she got to tour Kamloops’ wastewater treatment plant, and learned how the treated waste is used as fertilizer on 450-acres of city-owned property.
“Down the road, we’ll have to look at some alternatives too…” said Cooper. “When it’s treated now (in Salmon Arm), it goes into the lake. We’d like to see that changed, so going to see what they were doing there was great.”
Cooper was also pleased to see SILGA delegates support a Columbia Shuswap Regional District resolution requesting the province to support overhead costs for nurse practitioners to operate.
“I actually think that the province is really looking at that, because when we can’t get doctors to an area, a nurse practitioner is a really good option,” said Cooper,
“But they need some help with the overhead funding to rent a place and get all the equipment that they need and pay the utilities.”