MP REPORT: MP advocates

Mel Arnold provides details on some of his activities in the riding

Mel Arnold is MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Mel Arnold is MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap.

A central responsibility that I carry as your member of Parliament is understanding the needs of communities in the North Okanagan-Shuswap and carrying this understanding to Ottawa to advocate for the support that our provincial, First Nations, regional and municipal governments require to meet our needs.

In February and March, I engaged with local governments to identify the priorities and needs of our communities, especially for infrastructure. The input I received helped me define where I should target my advocacy in Ottawa to help achieve results for investments in highways, water systems, wastewater treatment, housing and innovation in biomass and biofuels. I delivered a summary of these priorities to the government of Canada in March and have advocated at every opportunity I have had.

I was happy to see that the federal government was finally able to agree with B.C. on establishing the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF) Sept. 30. This will allow local levels of government to access joint federal and provincial funding to cover 83 per cent of eligible project costs which leaves 17 per cent for local governments to fund.

The CWWF has already benefited the foreshore sanitary sewer main rehabilitation project in Salmon Arm that I identified as a priority to the federal government in March and I will be reaching out to local governments to assist in moving other priorities of our communities forward because there is so much more work that needs to be done.

I am encouraged that the federal government has also agreed to support the widening of Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm and to replace the Salmon River bridge — priorities that I have advocated for in Ottawa with the support of local levels of government. There remains a need for support from Ottawa to make Highway 1 and other highways in our region safer and I will continue to work hard to win this support.

Achieving results in matters such a public infrastructure are rarely realized by the work of any single level of government but rather through the co-operation of all levels of government and I am grateful to be able to cooperate with our local representatives and also colleagues in Ottawa to achieve results for the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

As I continue to advocate for federal support for infrastructure in the North Okanagan- Shuswap, I will also be working with local stakeholders and First Nations to identify the needs and priorities for housing in our communities.

The federal government is developing a national housing strategy and I look forward to the input of stakeholders in defining what our communities need to build stronger communities.

Housing needs were identified in the consultations I held earlier this year and I believe a national strategy must be tailored to meet the needs of our communities and I will be working to this end.

Mel Arnold is MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap.