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Penticton  

$5M for irrigation project

The provincial government has stepped forward with $5M to help the Town of Oliver reroute their agriculture irrigation canal, following a rockslide that damaged it last year

The $10M project will send the canal around Gallagher Lake to follow Highway 97 to prevent similar damage in the future. The province and Town of Oliver partnered on a $1M temporary fix for the damaged canal just in time for growing season a year ago.

Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson made the announcement at Oliver town hall on Wednesday, and said the impact of agriculture cannot be understated.

“Well it’s $130M a year, just in product that is produced, and that doesn’t count the tourism or the jobs that are related to it.”

“Water is crucial, absolutely crucial. We always think of water projects being for drinking water, but this is one of the very unique situations where it is irrigation,” she added.

The Town of Oliver will be responsible for finding the remaining $5M to complete the project, but Mayor Ron Hovanes says they are already in talks with Ottawa.

“It’s a huge thing to get half the money, we are going to continue to lobby the federal government. We know at the end of the day, that our tax base, rural and urban, is going to have to come up with their share, but we are feeling pretty good about it.”

Oliver will be responsible for an environmental impact and an archaeological review before the project begins, and will be required to get permission from the electorate should it need to borrow significant funds to complete the canal.

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