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Pemberton dike funding held up in Victoria

Building Canada money stopped flowing when provincial election started

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Federal money to upgrade a Pemberton dike is being held up at the provincial level, a staffer for Pemberton's MP confirmed last week.

Robert Pearsall, a parliamentary assistant working for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl told Pique last week that money through the Building Canada fund is being delayed at the provincial government level in B.C. He said all Building Canada projects stopped when the provincial election campaign began and thus did the process of reviewing and approving applications.

The Building Canada fund is a joint initiative between the federal and provincial governments that provides money to communities to help fix up municipal infrastructure such as wastewater treatment systems, drinking water, recreation facilities and public transit.

The Pemberton Valley Dyking District has applied to Building Canada for a grant that will help upgrade a dike section of Pemberton Creek that runs through a property slated for development of a neighbourhood known as Signal Hill Homes.

Pemberton developers Bruce van Mook and Garth Phare hope to situate 462 units in three developments on lands adjacent to Signal Hill Elementary School and a vacant industrial site. That includes village homes, townhomes and condominiums.

The future of the project hinges on money from Building Canada, which will be put towards a dike that doesn't currently meet safety standards.

The entire cost of fixing the dike could be about $1.2 million and money through Building Canada will take care of 90 per cent of the cost. The Signal Hill developers have agreed to pay the remaining 10 per cent to upgrade the dike.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said at a July 7 council meeting that grant announcements through the program have been delayed to late August or early September, but when reached last week he didn't seem certain of when they would come.

"The indications I have are that all of these things are contingent on the budget," he said. "Normally budgets are announced in March. ...In this particular case, there's going to be a throne speech and a budget, I believe the budget's (coming on) the 31 st of August.

"The announcements and the decisions are all contingent on what's in the budget so I suspect that we'll see decisions coming forward shortly after that."

When asked about why money was being held up at the provincial level, Sturdy didn't criticize the government and instead said B.C.'s government has to make difficult decisions about where its funding goes.

"I think on one hand the province may well be criticized for not flowing through the funding," he said. "But I think they could also find themselves criticized for flowing it through prior to having a budget.

"I just hope that the timing is not going to be such that it becomes problematic to complete any of these projects in the two-year window that's available. I think that was one of the stipulations of Building Canada."

Building Canada money is key to developing the Signal Hill neighbourhood. Caroline Lamont, manager of development services for the Village of Pemberton, noted at the July 21 council meeting that if the money doesn't come through then the developers would have to come back to council for new solutions.

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