(From left) Creston Mayor Ron Toyota

First phase of Arrow Creek project celebrated

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The first phase of an upgrade to the Arrow Creek water system is now complete. The project was made possible with $360,000 from the federal Gas Tax Fund. It will enhance the overall quality of drinking water delivered to approximately 3,500 households in the communities of Erickson and Creston.

“The federal government is pleased to be a part of today’s celebrations in recognition of a project that will greatly improve the quality of life for those in the Kootenay region,” said Kootenay-Columbia member of Parliament David Wilks, on behalf of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Denis Lebel. “Programs like the Gas Tax Fund demonstrate the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to protecting the environment, through cleaner water initiatives across the country.”

The full project, which will be completed by the fall of 2012, includes the replacement of eight kilometres of the main distribution line and construction of a new reservoir.

“The Gas Tax Fund has supported a range of recent water system upgrades in Central Kootenay regional district that are having a positive effect in the lives of local residents,” said Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong. “The B.C. government is pleased that Gas Tax Funds are creating cleaner air, cleaner water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in communities across British Columbia.”

Drinking water quality, availability, and infrastructure are key priorities of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) board, which has allocated over $1.4 million in federal gas tax funds to water system improvement projects. Recent examples include construction of a new reservoir in Ootischenia ($150,000), installation of a water treatment plant in Balfour ($200,000) and upgrades to a water intake in Lister ($200,000). Other projects aimed at improving water quality in Riondel, Fletcher Creek and Six Mile are planned for 2011.

“This conservation upgrade will offer significant benefits to approximately 7000 water users in both Erickson and the town of Creston,” stated RDCK Area B director and board chair John Kettle. “We are pleased that the federal government has ensured that the Gas Tax Fund provides sustainable financial support for infrastructure improvement projects in municipalities and rural areas.”

“One of the challenges facing local governments with rural populations is the high cost of improving small water systems,” said Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) president Barbara Steele. “By funding these and other infrastructure projects, the Gas Tax Fund is ensuring that more British Columbians have access to safe drinking water.”

The Gas Tax Fund is a tripartite agreement between Canada, B.C. and the UBCM that delivers infrastructure funding to local governments primarily for capital projects that lead to cleaner air, cleaner water or reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The UBCM administers the Gas Tax Fund in B.C. in collaboration with Canada and B.C.