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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The Opposition wants to know if the provincial government still intends to pay a quarter of the bill for Stratford’s sewage project now that it has hit cost overruns.
The work has also been delayed.
Opposition Leader James Aylward brought the matter up during question period in the legislature on Friday in Charlottetown.
It could be close to the end of next year before sewage starts getting pumped from Stratford to the plant on Riverside Drive in Charlottetown.
The project was announced in the spring of 2017, and 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 of Stratford.
The cost of the first phase of the project was supposed to be about $6.2 million, but the tender came in at $8.7 million.
“Part of the project costs have delayed work on a project upgrade to the waste treatment between Stratford and Charlottetown,’’ said Aylward, who asked Premier Wade MacLauchlan if the province is still committed to the project.
Instead, Infrastructure Minister Paula Biggar took the question.
“We were going to be and (we) have made a commitment to the sewage treatment plans from Stratford over to Charlottetown as was reported in the media,’’ Biggar said. “It was the decision of the Stratford council to delay the project due to higher-than-expected tender costs. We are there as a funding partner when they are ready to proceed.’’
Aylward said the project will be an environmental step forward for sustainability and an example of regional co-operation but pressed again for a commitment to the 25 per cent funding.
Biggar didn’t commit to any specific figure in her response.
“As was reported by the Stratford council, they are working within their budget that they see fit that they can afford as a community and we are there as a funding partner as we have already indicated,’’ Biggar said, adding the project will address a serious and potential future problem around sewage.
Alyward again asked for a funding commitment from government.
“Stratford residents have waited a long time to see this work done,’’ he said. “They’ve been more than patient and they want to see this issue resolved as quickly as possible. With the risen costs for the completion of the project, is the province still standing by their 25 per cent commitment to this project?’’
Biggar said she was not sure how many times she could say yes, that the province will be a funding partner.