NDP leader John Horgan made what could amount to a major financial commitment to the Comox Valley while campaigning through Courtenay Sunday afternoon.
With Courtenay-Comox candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard by his side, and K’ómoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel in attendance, Horgan vowed to cover any financial shortfalls Project Watershed’s Kus-kus-sum project could be facing, at the Nov. 30 closing date for the full purchase of the old Field Sawmill site.
“This is a critically important salmon habitat issue, but more importantly, it is a reconciliation issue,” Horgan said of the project to restore the site back to its natural condition.
The project site is named Kus-kus-sum in recognition of the historic First Nation village once located in the area.
“I am here today to announce that a re-elected NDP government will work with Project Watershed and the K’ómoks First Nation to get the rehabilitation work underway as quickly as possible, so that this area can return to its natural splendour.”
Last year, the NDP government committed $1 million to the project. On Sunday, Horgan vowed to cover any outstanding costs, to ensure the purchase agreement goes through.
“We are saying today that we are going to bridge that [funding] gap,” he said. “We want to see this deal closed and we want to see the remediation start as quickly as possible.
“I believe that this is an investment that British Columbians want to see us making.”
Project manager Tim Ennis announced last month that the project was still $650,000 short of its funding target for the acquisition of the site.
“Because of some large pledges that have come in recently, we are probably closer to half a million (shy), but this is tremendous news, and we are really, really happy with the support from the provincial government for this project,” said Ennis. “The funding is essentially a backstop to make sure we can close the acquisition before the deadline.”
Ennis said the acquisition portion is only one part of the project.
“We have always looked at this as a project that involves both the acquisition and the restoration components. This announcement allows us to consider the acquisition phase essentially behind us, but we certainly need to keep our foot on the gas pedal for fundraising because we still have a very large restoration project in front of us as well.”