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Government to put $231 million toward highway projects in Okanagan

KELOWNA, B.C. -- The federal government and the provincial government of B.C. are slated to fund up to $231 million...

KELOWNA, B.C. — The federal government and the provincial government of B.C. are slated to fund up to $231 million worth of national highway system improvements in the province, under the Building Canada Plan. A number of specific highway improvements will be announced in the coming weeks.

The first project to receive funding involves constructing a nine-kilometre four-lane highway, to be located west of the existing two-lane section of Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama, located in the Okanagan Valley of B.C. The federal government will provide up to $33.6 million through the Building Canada Fund, and B.C. will contribute $44.3 million toward the total $77.9 million cost of the highway improvement project. Work is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

“This investment is an outstanding example of our ongoing partnership with the federal government, and our continued commitment to deliver needed road projects throughout the province,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “Working with the federal government, we’re enhancing B.C.’s highway system to improve safety; (we will) enhance the flow of goods and people, and tap into new opportunities in trade and tourism.”

“This announcement shows that the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia are effectively working together, to help move people and goods in British Columbia,” said Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. “This funding will not only help promote economic development in this province, but will contribute to saving lives and improve the efficiency of the highway system in British Columbia and the national highway system as a whole.”

The expanded highway infrastructure is also expected to reduce congestion, promote transportation safety, and improving the flow of people and goods across the country, according to Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Lawrence Cannon. “These priority projects reflect our government’s commitment to infrastructure investments, that foster a stronger economy and a cleaner environment.”

The Winfield-Oyama project is also “terrific news for this growing region of B.C.,” according to B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Kevin Falcon. “The road upgrades will improve safety, stimulate further growth in our economy, and help to boost our competitiveness by moving people and goods more efficiently.”

Federal funding for this highway construction comes from the $33-billion Building Canada plan.

On Nov. 6, the federal government and the province of B.C. signed an infrastructure framework agreement under Building Canada worth $2.2 billion for infrastructure initiatives from 2007 to 2014. The two governments also launched on July 7, 2008, a call for infrastructure projects in smaller communities to be funded under this larger plan.

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