Princeton will receive $11.9 million from the province for flood repairs, following an announcement NDP government on Thursday, April 14.
“I am so relieved,” said Mayor Spencer Coyne, just minutes after the news was received. “It’s been a long road and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a small portion of the money that we actually need, but anything at this point is a positive. Knowing that we are going to have some money for interim housing, as well as for the water system, is a huge sigh of relief.
The funding is part of a $53.6 million package that will benefit 10 communities impacted by last year’s flood, including Merritt and Abbotsford.
“People have faced unprecedented challenges in the wake of the November floods, and I’m proud of the way our communities have pulled together,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen in a release. “This funding will help Princeton and other towns implement the solutions that they have identified as important. It will help them all make more progress through their recovery, and build resilience against future disasters.”
In addition to a housing camp for Princeton, and a restored water system, the money will be used to pay for infrastructure repair and increased staffing needs related to the flood.
Coyne said housing and water are the most important issues facing Princeton residents now.
It is estimated it will take more than $4 million to fix Princeton’s water system, compromised by floods and the resulting groundwater.
Two of the town’s wells must be moved away from the river, and according to Interior Health, the overall system must be upgraded to allow for greater contact time during the chlorination process and to add UV lighting.
Coyne said if contractors can be secured as soon as possible, that work might be completed by the end of the year.
Until that time all homes, except for those on the benches, will remain on a boil water advisory.
Plans are already being made for the interim housing camp promised in the announcement, which was first requested by the town last November.
An approximate $1.4 million is earmarked for that project.
The camp will be built in the town’s industrial park and is expected to include 30 rented mobile units. The chosen site must first be serviced by a road, water and sewer, and the rented units must be sourced.
“It’s going to be a challenge because not only are we looking for them, every other municipality is looking.”
It will probably be the end of summer before the camp is ready, Coyne added.
“I know no one wants to hear that but the reality is it’s going to take some time.”
Coyne expressed his thanks to the province, Russell, and the ministers involved for their advocacy.
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