Performing arts centre could benefit from new federal funds

MICHELE YOUNG / Kamloops Daily News
September 8, 2013 01:00 AM

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is working with the federal government to broaden the range of projects that might qualify for funding from a new infrastructure program.

Coun. Nancy Bepple, who sits on four FCM committees, said Sunday the new infrastructure funding criteria was discussed by FCM members in St. John's.

It's possible the funding might be modified to include such things as a performing arts centre in Kamloops, which is the focus of discussion of a committee, but which hasn't moved to any decision stage.

"Right now, it can't be used for a performing arts centre. The criteria's not established but it looks promising that we might be able to use the funding for something like that," said Bepple.

"By broadening the scope, it allows us to take on projects we might not otherwise or not as soon."

Bepple said the infrastructure funding has, in the past, been aimed at necessities such as roads, water and sewer projects. But if it's broadened, it could speed up the development of a performing arts centre or be used to boost the storm-water system, which has been overwhelmed lately by some severe rainfalls.

"The weather's more and more severe, we could use it to upgrade our storm system," she said.

The new funding was supposed to be in place for 2013, but the criteria still haven't been defined, so it's now expected to be available by the 2014 budget period, she said.

Bepple was already on three FCM committees when she flew to St. John's on Wednesday. By the time she headed home Sunday, she was on a fourth: infrastructure and transportation.

She is on an ad hoc rail safety committee, which she said is worthwhile as there are many trains that come through Kamloops daily.

She said disaster response, such as to derailments involving hazardous materials, is a worry and she wants to see the right tools available for first responders in communities with railways passing through.

"And if there's any problem, it's not the taxpayer on the hook for the disasters," said Bepple.

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