M.P. Cathy McLeod announced two major grants while in Clearwater on Saturday.
The first was for $1.4 million in gas tax money to construct septage management facilities in Clearwater and Barriere.
The second was for $92,000 to upgrade the former Dutch Lake School into a community center.
“I think this is a really important addition to your communities,” McLeod said of the septage management project. “Kudos to the people who waded through the federal application form.”
The two facilities will be used to treat sludge that has been pumped from septic tanks. About 7,300 people in the North Thompson Valley or 90 per cent of the population depend on septic tanks, said McLeod.
Until now, contractors have hauled the sludge for disposal at pits at the Clearwater and Barriere landfills.
Those landfills are closing, however, and a new method of disposal needed to be found.
The alternative would have been to haul the septic sludge to Heffley Creek.
Clearwater’s septage management facility will be located near the present sewage lagoons, said Mayor John Harwood.
Canfor has agreed to provide land for a new road into the facility so trucks won’t need to go by residences to get to it.
The Barriere site is located just south of Gilbert Smith Forest Products mill.
Both the Clearwater and Barriere facilities will be operated in partnership with Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
The facilities will help make the North Thompson Valley a better place for families to live, grow and work, said TNRD board chair Randy Murray.
The Clearwater facility will mean a long haul for septic tank sludge from the Blue River area, said Thompson Headwaters (Area B) director Willow MacDonald. However, it will be much shorter than hauling to Heffley Creek.
“I’m thankful that we were involved in the discussions,” she said.
M.P. McLeod said she has been involved in discussions to upgrade Dutch Lake School for several years. Several funding sources were explored before the successful application to the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund produced the $92,000 announced on Saturday.
School District 73 has agreed to lease the former school for 25 years (in five-year blocks) at $1 per year, said Mayor John Harwood.
Plans include handicap access and bathrooms, rooms for seniors, free space for non-profits to meet, as well as art and theater to make use of the stage in the gym. The former school will be a hub for the local transit system.
The money from the federal government will augment $50,000 from Wells Gray Community Forest for the project.
District of Clearwater plans to move its offices from the Flats to the Dutch Lake School. It will, however, keep the maintenance yard in its present location.
About half the former school will be used by the District while the other half will be used by Yellow Community Services. It appears that possibly the Community Resource Center, now managed by YCS, will move from its present location next to Raft River Elementary to Dutch Lake.
The mayor praised YCS executive director Jack Keough for his cooperation on the project.
“We are very happy that this has come to fruition,” said S.D. 73 vice-chair Kathleen Karpuk. “We’re absolutely delighted to see the school back in use again.”
Other dignitaries present for Saturday’s announcement included Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys, Wells Gray Country director Tim Pennell. Lower North Thompson director Bill Kershaw, and TNRD chief administrative officer Sukh Gill.