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City of Powell River receives water main funds

Reserve fund to cover remaining $700,000 without tax hike
FUNDING FLOWS: A project to modernize City of Powell River’s drinking water infrastructure, started with the city’s water treatment facility near Haslam Lake, will be completed with a grant of $3.5 million from provincial and federal governments. Chris Bolster photo

Due to a recent infrastructure grant announcement, municipal taxpayers will not see an increase in their city taxes for the replacement of City of Powell River’s main drinking water supply.

BC community development minister Peter Fassbender announced Powell River’s inclusion in 35 provincial water projects funded through joint federal, provincial and municipal partnerships for water infrastructure.

Fassbender made the announcement on Friday, September 30, the last day of the Union of BC Municipalities conference held in Victoria.

City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa said he is pleased that after a couple  of tries, the city has been able to obtain the project funding. Replacement of the main will complete the water project started when the city replaced its water-treatment plant.

“We should now be able to complete what we started years ago with the city’s water-treatment facility,” said Formosa. “We’ll have a state-of-the-art, solid water supply.”

City of Powell River will receive $2.1 million from the federal government and $1.4 million from the province. The municipal government will pay for the remaining $700,000 from the city’s reserves, not through taxation.

“It’s great news,” said city councillor Russell Brewer. “We’re on the hook for a lot less than we thought we might be, given we can cover it with our reserves, then we’re no longer looking at a tax increase to cover the difference.”

City director of infrastructure Tor Birtig told the Peak this summer that if the city was not able to access grant funding from the federal and provincial governments, it would have to look at paying for the work itself, a move that would have meant increasing municipal taxes.

The city’s water comes from Haslam Lake and is pumped through a 1.3 kilometre, 36-inch-concrete trunk main to a water-treatment plant and reservoir at the top of Haslam Street near Cranberry Lake. The project cost for replacement has been estimated at approximately $4 million.

Government of Canada is providing 50 per cent of the more than $450 million in funding for projects under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

According to a statement from the city, staff is ready to put the shovel-ready project out for tender. An anticipated start date is unknown.