News Release: Upgraded park officially opens in Lower Nicola

Merritt, British Columbia – Residents in the Lower Nicola are set to benefit from the completion of upgrades to the Smith Pioneer Park. The improvements will replace outdated equipment, improve access for residents with physical restrictions, and help conserve water.

“Our government is proud to invest in infrastructure projects that contribute to the health and well-being of residents of Thompson-Nicola Regional District. This park is now an even better place to meet and enjoy the great outdoors,” said Dan Albas, Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla. “Our infrastructure investments through the Gas Tax Fund transfer will continue to generate economic growth and job creation in municipalities across British Columbia and Canada for years to come.”

Upgrades to Smith Pioneer Park were deemed necessary after aging equipment and a lack of accessibility led to decreased use of the park. The space is now wheelchair accessible, and a new walking track will invite those with physical restrictions to stay active. Among other things, the project involved the construction of new retaining walls and fencing, the reconfiguration of a ball field to create a multipurpose playing field, as well as new playground equipment, electrical upgrades, and the installation of low-flow fixtures within the washrooms.

The Smith Pioneer Park is the only public access park with recreational facilities in Lower Nicola. The upgrades for this project were made possible through a $55,000 contribution from the federal Gas Tax Fund, $214,000 from the Provincial Community Recreation Program and $40,000 from the Lower Nicola Community Association.

“As a regional government covering more than 45,000 square kilometres, providing services in a financially sustainable manner can be a challenge,” said Thompson-Nicola Regional District Chair Randy Murray. “Federal and provincial contributions and inter-jurisdictional partnerships are vital to maintain the viability of rural communities.”

“We are so thankful to the provincial and federal governments for recognizing the need for improved infrastructure in rural B.C.,” said Karen Knapp of the Lower Nicola Community Association. “The revitalized Smith Pioneer Park will serve all the people in our area for years to come.”

The federal Gas Tax Fund transfer provides long-term funding to municipalities across the country to build and revitalize their local infrastructure. The Government of Canada has invested over $10billion to date in municipal infrastructure through this program, and passed legislation to make it a permanent transfer of $2billion per year. As part of Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government committed to index the Gas Tax Fund to provide additional funding for communities going forward. Between 2006 and 2014, British Columbia will receive more than $1.56 billion from the Gas Tax Fund to improve local infrastructure. The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) administers the Gas Tax Fund in BC, in collaboration with Canada and British Columbia.

“The renewal of recreational infrastructure is a significant cost driver for local government,” said UBCM President Mary Sjostrom. “I am very appreciative of the contributions from the federal and provincial government along with those from the Lower Nicola Community Association to make this project possible.”

For additional information about federal investments in infrastructure in British Columbia and throughout the country, and to stay up to date with web feeds, visit www.infrastructure.gc.ca. To find out what the Government of Canada is doing to promote jobs, growth and prosperity, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.

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For more information:

Marie-Josée Paquette
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
613-991-0700

Sukh Gill
Chief Administrative Officer
Thompson-Nicola Regional District
250.377.8673

Matt Gordon
Communications Director
Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
250-953-3677

Paul Taylor
Director of Communications
UBCM
250-356-2938

Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Or toll-free: 1-977-250-7154

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