The District of Kent’s aging water and sewer infrastructure was top of mind for mayor Sylvia Pranger and federal infrastructure critic Matt Jeneroux during a meeting in Agassiz Tuesday (April 30).
“Every municipality is now facing those aging infrastructure needs,” Pranger said. “We have a fully functioning sewage treatment plant, but upgrading the older lines in the community” will soon become a priority, as will upgrading water lines and extending them throughout the district.
Jeneroux, the Conservative’s shadow minister for infrastructure, was in the district as part of his Canada-wide infrastructure tour ahead of the federal election this October. He initiated the meeting in Kent as a way to start getting feedback about infrastructure needs in the community.
“October 21 is the election date. On October 22, we essentially want to move forward and put the delays in infrastructure building behind us and start getting things built,” Jeneroux said, assuming a Conservative victory in the election.
“We’re trying to build a database now in terms of projects that are needed across the country, but then also talking with stakeholders like Mayor Pranger with issues in terms of applying for funding in the past.”
During the meeting Tuesday, Pranger and Jeneroux discussed the needs for Kent’s sewage and water systems, as well road resurfacing after sewage and water project, but also the need for an indoor pool to replace the aging Ferny Coombe outdoor facility and additional systems being extended to Kent’s proposed new light industrial area.
During the meeting, Jeneroux and Pranger took a tour of the nearly-completed Hammersley Pump Station, as well as Mission and Kent Institutions. (Jeneroux said the need for a new wastewater treatment system for the prisons was discussed, as they fall under federal jurisdiction.)
But overall, the biggest concern was a need for consistent funding for infrastructure projects.
“Water and sewer and infrastructure like a certainty of funding, so we can systematically replace aging infrastructure,” Pranger explained.
“The biggest thing that we’re hearing is a lot of mayors or councillors are in a holding pattern where they’re applying for money, and they’re crossing their fingers hoping they get that money,” he said. “At the end of the day, a no answer would actually be more helpful than not knowing at all.”
“We’re trying to take that part of guesswork out of infrastructure funding.”
For Jeneroux and the Conservative’s Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon candidate Brad Vis, who also attended the meeting with Pranger, Tuesday’s discussion was an opportunity to get some data on municipalities that could help their government in the event of a Conservative win this October. But Pranger said that for the District of Kent, the meeting was simply an opportunity to have their infrastructure concerns heard.
“We work with whatever government is in power to the best of our ability. We have worked very well in the past with whoever’s in power,” she said. “We work with MP Jati Sidhu and his staff, and we will continue to work with whoever is elected after October.”