Capital city began work on new water source in 2013, continued sewer separation project, announced water meters for all customers by 2019
© Guardian photo by Dave Stewart
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the city wasn’t about to proceed on a new water source without having a financial plan in place first. Putting water and sewer rates up to pay for the work was no an option, he said.
2013 was a year when the City of Charlottetown went with the flow.
The City of Charlottetown began drilling on a new water source this past fall while announcing that every customer will be using a water meter by the end of 2019.
That new water source will take some of the pressure off the Winter River-Tracadie Bay Watershed, currently the only source of water for the capital city.
The city has been drawing, roughly, 90 per cent of what it is permitted to draw under provincial regulations from Winter River.
The city spent $2.6 million on that in 2013, which includes $750,000 from the province and feds.
Those water meters mean residents will pay only for the water they use (on top of an initial flat rate).
The city also completed the second phase of the Spring Park sanitary sewer separation project at a cost of $4.1 million, which includes $2.4 million from the provincial and federal governments.
That project should wrap up sometime in 2014 and when it does the city’s water and sewer system will be completely separated, stopping effluent from pouring into the Hillsborough River during heavy rainfalls.
The city has set aside $2.6 million in a reserve account to help complete the new water supply and sewer separation projects.
They’re also counting on money from a new Build Canada fund program which is scheduled to be up and running for the 2014 construction season.
It’s estimated the water supply project will cost about $18 million.
Divide that three ways (municipal, provincial and federal dollars) and take into account money already spent and what’s in the reserve account, the city is still short $2.4 million.
The city has been facing quite a bit of criticism these past few years for not acting quicker on the need for a new water supply but Lee said the municipality needed a financial plan first.
“I fully understand the importance of that project. We also recognize you can’t just forge ahead and spend money when you know that if you wait a few months you can get two-thirds of the money through a federal program. It would simply be silly to forge ahead.’’
Lee said to have acted and borrowed $18 million without federal and provincial help would have meant jacking up water and sewer rates.
“That makes absolutely no sense.’’
Coun. Mitchell Tweel has long argued the city should divert money from its ditch infilling program into the two water-related projects but Lee isn’t prepared to stop filling in ditches in the amalgamated areas.
“I make no apology to anybody for ditch infilling projects the city has done over a number of years and which the city will be doing in 2014. I think we need to comprehend that ditch infilling is installing storm water systems. We can’t just sit back and watch streets in our city flooded out in the spring for no apparent reason.
“The residents in the former communities of Winsloe, West Royalty, Sherwood, Parkdale, East Royalty and so on are paying the same tax rate as people living on Queen Street in downtown Charlottetown and these people deserve the same level of service.’’
Lee adds that ditch infilling not only creates a storm water system with catch basins but creates room to install sidewalks, pointing to newly installed sidewalks on Duncan Heights for area residents and students at Stonepark Intermediate School and along Lower Malpeque Road to nearby seniors.
Lee credits the hard work by Coun. Eddie Rice, chairman of the Water and Sewer Utility committee, for advancing the two water projects and various conservation programs.
“The water conservation initiative has never been better utilized than it has been over the last two or three years. We’ve struggled in the past but Coun. Rice has really moved things along.’’