Executive changes federal grant project list

Lisa Goudy
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East water feeder line, water mains to be included in gas tax grant

Different infrastructure projects will be prioritized under the federal Gas Tax Funding Grant.

At Monday’s executive committee meeting, councillors voted in favour of the motion to change the priorities under the gas tax funding. Coun. Dawn Luhning and Coun. Patrick Boyle were absent from the meeting.

The engineering department will include the east water feeder line project under the current agreement and submit the revised plans for infrastructure investment to the New Deal Secretariat, which governs the projects under the Gas Tax Funding Grant, to use the remaining approved grant by Dec. 31, 2014.

The other project added to the list of projects by Dec. 31, 2014 is the cast iron water mains replacement project.

“When you look at a little small piece of this, it doesn’t really give you the overall picture of just what dire straits our water distribution system is in,” said Coun. Brian Swanson. “I don’t think you can point to any one report that summarizes all of it.”

Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick said it would use the available funds for something that is an “immediate concern.”

“It’d just be devastating if (funds) were available and we lost it for whatever reason,” she said. “Is it a drop in the bucket? Absolutely, but you’ve got to start dropping in the bucket if you’re going to accomplish anything.”

Ty Stokes, director of engineering services, said there are currently two projects under the funding agreement with a Dec. 31, 2014-expiry date — the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant upgrade and the Buffalo Pound supply line. The agreement stated $2.67 million is available for use by the deadline.

But the engineering department looked at the supply line performance and concluded the project can be delayed for a few years. It is now ranked as priority No. 3 as it is a 2015 project.

“I don’t have a problem changing the priorities,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “It would be nice to twin a line or to have a new line, but it seems to be holding up better than the east feeder.”

The east feeder water line was ranked as the No. 1 priority and needs additional funding. It was tendered twice in 2013, but the bids all came in too high. Stokes said city administration expects the bids to be lower this time around because the tendering process will start sooner.

“We’re dealing with the most critical portion of which we’ve had a history of breakage and troublesome spots,” said Stokes. “Based on historical breakage in our public works department, we have good confidence that the other portion of the line is in better shape.”

“We know that east feeder line is leaking severely right now. So because there’s an apparent major leak, we know there are other leaks along the line,” added city manager Matt Noble. “We have to get at least part of that underway or we’re facing an extreme risk ... We have to do this project this year.”

The cast iron water mains are the No. 2 priority. If the east feeder water line doesn’t use all of the $2.67 million in funding, the water mains will use the remainder of the funds.

Brian Acker, director of financial services, said the gas tax program has provided the city with $12.63 million in funding since its inception in the 2005/2006 year.

Of that, $9.5 million has gone to the wastewater treatment plant, $440,000 to the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant and now $2.67 million to the east feeder line.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: New Deal Secretariat, Gas Tax Funding Grant

Geographic location: Buffalo Pound

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