Vernon mayor Victor Cumming is bringing attention to a nearly $30 million grant received by Greater Vernon Water (GVW) for a planned water filtration plant on Mission Hill.
In a press release, Cumming said the grant was “the lightest reported story over the last four years and not even mentioned in the (past) campaign for mayor or council.”
The grant, part of the roughly $40 million needed for the plant, is the result of “nine years of pressure by local politicians and Greater Vernon Water staff,” said Cumming.
The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) is supplying more than $10 million to complete the funding needed for the plant.
The plant treats the Kalamalka Lake water source, which has been susceptible to water quality issues related to turbidity and seasonal algae blooms, which are expected to increase with climate change.
“The public did weigh in and voted down the referendum to borrow $70 million in 2014 to construct a number of items in the Master Water Plan including this filtration plant,” Cumming said, noting the plant is required to meet revised drinking water standards.
After the 2014 referendum’s defeat, staff and local politicians on the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) pushed the province to participate in the funding of the plant. Finally, in August 2021, the province and the federal government announced the jointly funded grant.
Mayor Cumming and councillor Akbal Mund each provided $1 to push the total grant funding of $29,999,999 over the $30 million mark.
“The amount is more than the approved borrowing for the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre at $28 million,” Cumming added. “The grant will have a significant impact on holding down water rates for all customers while enabling GVW to meet the revised standards from all drinking water sources.”
Texas company AECOM was awarded a contract by the RDNO to provide engineering services for the construction of the new filtration facility. The project includes a new water filtration system, a new building for labs and control rooms, upgrades to waste steam handling, related piping and equipment and control systems.
Cumming said GVAC and GVW staff should be thanked for “requiring senior levels of government to finance a significant part of the construction to meet their new revised drinking water standards.”