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

Victoria police will be working to arrest as many people with active warrants as possible during #VicPDWarrantWednesday May 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police aim to make mass arrests during #VicPDWarrantWednesday

Officers working to locate people with active arrest warrants

According to Statistics Canada, Greater Victoria’s unemployment rose half a per cent to 6.2 per cent in April 2021 compared to the previous month. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment in Greater Victoria continues to rise

April figures peg local unemployment at 6.2%

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

Rendering of a possible amphitheatre on the bluffs at the south end of the Royal Beach development. (Seacliff Properties image)
Colwood signs development agreement for Royal Beach at old quarry

Plan includes 18 hectares of park, 2,850 homes and lots of retail

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 3116 from Victoria to Calgary May 5 may have been exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
New flight exposure reported between Calgary and Victoria

Passengers on WestJet flight 3116 May 5 affected

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered on remote road near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A Nanaimo RCMP officer is recovering after his patrol car was hit by another vehicle at an intersection on Monday, May 10. (Photo courtesy Julia Rose)
RCMP vehicle broad-sided in Nanaimo intersection crash

Police officer recovering at home following collision Monday

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old B.C. bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Most Read