Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook

Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook

Funding announced for Williams Lake River

Government announced an additional $771,000 of funding Tuesday for storm water upgrades in Williams Lake.

Government announced an additional $771,000 of funding Tuesday for storm water upgrades that will help decrease the amount of junk going into the Williams Lake River.

“We’re constructing these ponds that serve two purposes,” city engineering technician Jeff Bernardy explained. “One to slow down the storm water that comes down from the city from the streets so it’s released at a controlled rate into the river. The second thing it does is give the water time for sediments and pollutants to settle out.”

The ponds also help decrease the amount of erosion to the river valley from storm water, Bernardy added.

This project, with a total cost of close to $1.2 million, consists of $1 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund, while the citywill provide $170,000.

“It’s an example of partnership between the federal government, provincial government and the Union of B.C. Municipalities and we’re so appreciative,” Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook said. “We certainly wouldn’t be able to move forward on phase five of the river valley storm water project without this type of funding.”

In a written statement MP Dick Harris said the federal government has made infrastructure funding a priority.

“Strengthening infrastructure isn’t just about roads and bridges,” Harris noted. “Storm water management is important for local residents and the health of local streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.”

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett brought greetings from Premier Christy Clark and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes.

“I also bring personal greetings from myself and all the residents of the Cariboo Chilcotin. We all benefit from projects such as this,” Barnett said.

The “jewel” of a river valley is an important part of people’s lives, with hiking trails and a diverse eco-system, Barnett added.

“It’s an important fish and wildlife habitat and it’s important to all of us to preserve it, that is why I am so pleased with today’s announcement.”

The gas tax funding has gone toward 1,500 projects to date, Barnett said.

Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, president of UBCM, said UBCM administers the funding program.

“We’re moving into phase two with the federal government on the gas tax funding and work closely as well with provincial authorities who are part of a steering committee who looks at the applications.”

Gas tax funding is crucial to small communities, Sjostrom said.

“This contribution allows us to do such projects as this one,” she said. We can’t fund everything from local taxpayers.”

As if they’d come to hear the announcement, a dozen Canada Geese stood nearby along the river bank. Once the announcement was complete, they took off in flight.