Council is re-visiting the option of building its own wastewater treatment plant after finding the price tag of shipping sewage to Charlottetown a little hard to stomach.
The update came during deputy mayor Gary Clow’s infrastructure committee report. Despite previous efforts, notably a $1.5 million blue frog installation, for years the town has has to live with odours coming from the town’s sewage lagoon as summer approaches.
During a discussion on the smell, Clow said the town was working towards a hopeful solution with the federal and provincial governments and Charlottetown.
“Hopefully we can move forward in whatever direction, whether that’s our own plant or (shipping wastewater) to Charlottetown,” said Clow, adding that building a plant in Stratford was more of a “plan b” in case the other option failed. “But we definitely have to get the wheels in motion very shortly because time is running out.”
The town’s previous plan to pipe sewage to Charlottetown’s Riverside Drive facility hit a roadblock recently when the only bid from tender came in at $20.3 million, which was about double the expected cost from when the project was announced two years ago. The project would have seen 50 per cent funding from the federal government and 25 per cent from both the province and town.
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Stratford’s original plan for wastewater treatment was to build its own plant in the town.
Following a public meeting in 2016, council voted 5-1 to build a treatment plant to replace the existing lagoon. Residents had shared concerns over added costs and a loss of control over decision-making if sewage was shipped to Charlottetown.
However, soon after then-Premier Wade MacLauchlan told then-Mayor David Dunphy the province would not be prepared to help fund the project and preferred a regional approach that didn’t include construction of an additional facility.
In 2017, council then voted to officially enter a 20-year agreement to ship its wastewater to Charlottetown. A total of $10.9 million in funding was made available with half of it coming from the federal government and 25 per cent from the province and the town.
The town is now re-exploring its options, including building its own plant, after the only bid on the project’s tender came in at about $20.3 million.
Mayor Steve Ogden said the town will be looking for a solution as quickly as possible and that it was a top priority for the town.
“It’s a health and safety issue, it’s something that’s not good for our town and it’s something we want to get resolved,” said Ogden, noting it’s been an ongoing issue for the eight years he’s been on council. “The unfortunate thing is the bids are totally not even in the same ballpark as the estimates, which were done by good consultants.”
Ogden said estimates were based on projects of similar size in the region.
However, things have since changed.
“The market has become less competitive for development so we really have to look at all solutions,” said Ogden. “I can’t overstate the importance of this issue and how much of a health and safety issue it is.
“It’s not something I want to be going through this time next year, so hopefully between now and then we can get something done.”
Infrastructure director Jeremy Crosby said there is little that can be done about the smell this time of year.
While the town has a natural product that is added to the lagoon from time to time, Crosby said it only masks the odours.
“It still has to go through the process, I’ve been here 15 years since July and it’s been the same every season,” said Crosby, who added the stench doesn’t last as long as it used to. “We are experiencing odours right now and we think we’re turning the corner and things should start to improve quickly.”
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