The four Cariboo Mayors and the Chair of the Cariboo Regional District are planning a trip to the Premier’s office to make the business case for some much-needed funding in the region.

The idea was unanimously approved at the CRD’s Board on the Road meeting in Quesnel today.

Mayor Bob Simpson made the suggestion…

“What we want to be able to go down to the province and say look, not only against a shrinking tax base do we have to maintain the same infrastructure to make our community sustainable, that’s going to be problematic as it is, you guys are also adding a whole bunch of incremental burdens to us that we don’t have the money to pay for.”

Simpson says a change in provincial and federal regulations has led to those increases…

“Because of standard changes on waste management we now have to do methane capture. Well, that’s a very pricey piece of infrastructure we now have to add to our landfill. That landfill is aging and has to be expanded. When we expand it it has to meet the new standards for lining and buffer zones and so on, so those new standards impose pretty significant costs on a shrinking tax base. We now have a manganese issue, not because our water has changed. Our water quality is exactly the same as it’s always been, but Canada Health has changed the manganese standards, particularly for a target part of our population. Well, that’s all well and fine but that’s a very large price tag to do the water treatment necessary to meet those standards.”

Simpson says the province has increased its funding elsewhere…

“What we’ve noticed though with the current NDP government was that they created a fund along Highway 16, so all of the communities along Highway 16 have access to a 200 million dollar infrastructure fund, and that fund is to help those communities prepare for a growth industry, for the LNG industry, and all of the pressures that that will put on their infrastructure and housing and so on.”

He says they want something like that for this region.

Simpson says they will make the trip to Victoria as soon as possible…

“I’ve already reached out to the Premier’s office, and again Premier Horgan has been great in responding to local governments. So I look forward to hearing back as to when the earliest opportunity for us is to go down, and then our city staff, as well as the CAO for the CRD, will get together and work with the Mayors and the Chair to put the business case together.”

As for how much they’ll ask for, Simpson says that still has to be worked out by City and CRD staff.

He says they will have to make sure though that it’s not some “pie in the sky number or some unrealistic number”, and that it is pinned to real needs that they have to backfill where their property taxation can’t bring the necessary resources.