MP hears municipal wish list

Okanagan Shuswap MP Mel Arnold gathering top priorities as Ottawa prepares 2018 budget

Mel Arnold

Regional District of North Okanagan directors had a wish list ready for Mel Arnold.

The Okanagan-Shuswap MP came to the RDNO board meeting to compile a priority wish list from municipalities as Ottawa prepares its budget deliberations.

“I’m here to gain input from you, to hear your priorities for your area for the budget,” said Arnold. “I’ll compile the list and send it in to the finance minister.”

Topping the list, as three directors brought it up, was money from Ottawa to help local municipalities deal with the expected legalization of cannabis in 2018.

“Funding has yet to be decided for this between the federal and provincial governments,” said Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director. “The whole process is going to cost municipal governments a lot. It’s going to be expensive.”

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said it should be an equal, three-way split between the feds, province and municipality.

“Municipalities will need to fund it, and funding it through taxation is not going to work,” he said.

Board chair Bob Fleming asked for federal funds for the two rail trail corridors, the Okanagan Rail Trail from Coldstream to Sicamous, and the North Okanagan-Shuswap Rail Trail from Spallumcheen to Sicamous.

“The federal government is not involved with (land) purchases but is involved with development,” said Arnold. “I think that will be the case here but I haven’t heard anything yet.”

Other funding requests included help for affordable housing, more conservation officers for the Shuswap River, the opioid crisis in B.C. and help with the zebra and quagga mussels concerns in area lakes.

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