MPs must act as advocates for Mission sewer pipe project

Federal government funding desperately needed for project to continue

The lack of funding for the new Mission sewer line is raising concerns from a neighbouring MP.

Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said he’s been following the project and it appear to be slowly going off the rails.

“I’m a little bit concerned, not because this is my riding. I’m more concerned because Mission and Abbotsford have been partners in the JAMES Treatment Plant for so many years and this is just part of that system.”

The new sewer line would cross the Fraser River from Mission to the treatment plant in Abbotsford.

One of the challenges is a huge rise in costs – the project is now estimated to cost $32 million – but there is a second factor that is worrying Fast.

READ: Federal funding needed to avoid environmental disaster

“I’m hearing a deafening silence from the federal government, which is probably the bigger concern for Mission.”

Fast said he feels there has been a lack of meaningful engagement, “on the part of the member of Parliament for that riding” in promoting this project and advocating for it in Ottawa.

“So I’m calling out Jati Sidhu for not advocating strongly enough for this project,” Fast said.

He also said his office has contacted MP Francois-Phillipe Champagne, the minister of infrastructure and communities, and raised this project as having “environmental significance to our communities.”

Fast said if there is a breach in the line, the result would be an “environmental catastrophe.”

“‘My goal is to get this project done, and the federal government has to be at the table.”

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Jati Sidhu said he also wants to avoid a disaster and his office has been working with the district on the issue.

“We’ve been all over the map actually, thanks to Mayor Alexis. She came to Ottawa and met with me,” said Sidhu, adding he was able to pull Pacific Liberal caucus chair Gordie Hogg, the MP for South Surrey-White Rock, into the meeting.

They also managed to arrange a meeting with Minister Champagne to explain the issues directly.

“At the end of the day, when we (the Liberal government) came into the picture in 2015, the prime minister said, ‘Provinces, territories, tell us what you need.’ ”

Mission applied for $8.3 million in funding for the sewer line to be shared between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

“That was the original application and we knew it was important and we came through,” Sidhu said.

He said he doesn’t know why the project was delayed for a few years but “every year the price has gone up.”

To proceed with the project, Sidhu said Mission would have to reapply for funds and get the province on board as well.

“I will stand up and fight to push my ministry to come through. I talk to them once a week on different issues. They are fully aware and are fully on board.

“It’s just a matter of time, that’s how I see it. I know it is very important for Mission and people around the Fraser.”

Sidhu pointed to the Highway 1 expansion, to 264 Street as an example of a joint project that has moved forward. He believes the same will happen for the Mission sewer line.

“Yes, we will come through. No doubt about it.”



kevin.mills@missioncityrecord.com

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