Three major infrastructure projects have officially opened in Lake Country, with a total budget of $6 million.
The largest of the projects is the $4.1 million upgrade and renovation of the District's sewage treatment plant. The upgrades make the plant more energy efficient and environmentally friendly while ensuring the current and future demands of Lake Country can be met.
Lake Country's Director of Infrastructure Services, Greg Buchholz, says the District will be able to expand sewer service significantly, since the expanded plant has the capacity to serve almost all of the current 4,200 homes in the community. "It's around 2,000 homes right now, doubling our capacity to about 4,000 homes."
The plant uses the Bardenpho process of wastewater treatment which is also in use in other areas of the Okanagan. The multi-stage process results in the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater, considered an important step in the environmental protection of water resources. "It is common in the Okanagan, but not as common in other places," says Buchholz.
Substantial upgrades to Bottom Wood Lake road have also been completed, improving safety for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and transit users, at a cost of nearly $900,000. The repaved and widened road ow has separate pathways for walking and cycling, more crosswalks and improved transit stops.
A cornerstone of the Bottom Wood Lake Road project is a memorial plaque at one of the transit stops, reading, 'For Josie. Be Visible.' The plaque is in memory of Josie Evans, a student at George Elliott Secondary. Evans was struck by a vehicle and killed while walking on the shoulder of the road between the school and her home in early 2009. It was dark at the time with heavy fog.
Josie's mother, Linda Evans, and grandmother Anita Funk were on hand for the unveiling. Linda Evans says the memorial has been in the works for some time.
"After Josie's accident her friends formed a group called Teens for Change, and they met with the District." Evans says crosswalks were built right away, and other changes were planned to be included in the upgrade of the road.
"The whole community rallied around them," says Evans. "Everybody has been supportive of yes, let's get some proper walking and biking and transportation places."
The project has helped Evans bring some meaning to her loss. "She didn't lose her life in vain. Some action came out of it and now other people can walk along safer."
Lake Country also has a new $1 million park and ride facility. Located at Beasley Park on Woodsdale Road, the large parking lot will be free to use for transit riders.
"The success of park and rides, we find, are best when they're free," notes BC Transit spokesperson Erin Felker.
The large parking lot will ensure plenty of room for growth in the demand for park and ride.
"We're probably a bit premature for the size of this park and ride," says Mayor James Baker. "But we could get it done now with the programs that were in place, so it wasn't just Lake Country paying for the entire structure."
Funding for the projects came from a variety of sources, mainly the District of Lake Country, BC Transit, ICBC, and the federal Gas Tax Fund.
The Gas Tax program was first announced in 2005. It has been kept in place in each budget since, and was most recently renewed in May of this year.
The program is designed to give municipalities across Canada a stable source of funds for new infrastructure projects and upgrades.