Regional voice needed to get Ottawa’s attention

Without a Conservative Member of Parliament to champion their projects, the region’s mayors agree top priorities need to be identified to build a stronger case to secure  federal funding.

Former Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Gary Lunn served as minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and more recently, as minister of State for Sport, he helped facilitate the flow of federal stimulus funding for projects like the McTavish Interchange.

In his absence, regional consensus is crucial to decide on essential projects, especially if the Conservative government goes ahead with its plan to reduce the deficit.

“What we’re being told by the federal government is there’s only so much money in that kitty,” said Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders.

“Right now dollars to cents or best bang for your buck, I’d rather be putting money into health care and transit issues than sewage treatment,” he said.

From extending the runway at the Victoria airport to implementing a light rail transit system, several big and small projects are essential for region’s viability, but are reliant on federal help, said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.

“I have full expectation that Greater Victoria will receive its full share of federal investment and federal attention,” Fortin said. “I think on some of these key economic issues, we’re going to see results.”

Pricier items, such as the billion-dollar light rail, that would benefit the entire Island, have a good chance to be funded, even by a majority government, said Lynn Hunter, Victoria city councillor and former NDP Saanich-Gulf Islands MP.

That points to the pivotal need for a regional voice.

“I think we have to be optimistic, and we have two New Democrats and a Green that would be very supportive of that project,” Hunter said. “I think there will be differences even among New Democrats, but on this issue I don’t think there will be.

“Light rail is looking into the future of what we need here.”

Securing federal grants for projects, which involve an application process, will pose a greater challenge in this political climate, said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, adding that, thankfully, federal gas tax funding is allocated and therefore secure for municipal infrastructure projects.

If municipalities want a fighting chance for grants, they will have to bend the ears of MPs Randall Garrison, Elizabeth May and Denise Savoie.

“We’ll make sure they’re all up to speed on all of our applications, and look for them to knock on the door and help it along,” Leonard said.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claremont Spartans win the inaugural Senior Girls’ AAAA Basketball Island Championship

Claremont Spartans win their Feb. 15 game agains the Royal Bay Ravens 71 - 64

Campus View Elementary undergoes $4.2 million in seismic upgrades

Campus View Elementary undergoes significant seismic upgrades

Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

Cascadia Seaweed is experiencing rapid growth after launching six months ago

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read