Stratford Mayor Steve Ogden calls it a historic moment for the town.
Council held a special meeting on Wednesday to award a $17.5-million tender that will see its wastewater pumped over to the treatment plant in Charlottetown and its sewage lagoon shut down, ending years of effort by different councils who dealt with constant complaints from residents and businesses in the spring and summer over the odour.
Three companies bid for the tender with Birch Hill Construction coming out on top.
Work is expected to begin in weeks and be completed by December 2020.
Council not only approved the resolution unanimously, but there was applause around the table as the town is finally addressing a long-standing issue in what will be one of the biggest projects in its history.
“This represents a great day for Stratford,’’ Ogden told the media after the meeting.
When the mayor was asked where this project fell on the priority list, he didn’t even let reporters finish asking the question.
“It was number one. This was at the top of the list. When we went door to door (in the November civic election), and I think every councillor can attest to this, this was the number one thing that residents were concerned about, that they wanted solved and we’re really pleased that we were able to solve it.
“It’s been a long-standing issue with residents, with businesses, especially those located within proximity to the current treatment plant.’’
Joey Collins, a Stratford resident, said he found the odour worse this past summer than it has been in a long time.
“This year was particularly bad from mid-June to mid-July,’’ Collins told The Guardian as he filled up at the Esso, located directly next to the lagoon. “The population has gone up so much in the last few years.’’
“I think there will be a lot of people happy that they don’t have to smell that anymore,’’ said Donald MacTavish, who was also getting gas on Wednesday.
The following tenders were received for the Stratford wastewater treatment project (all bids include HST):
- Birch Hill Construction, $17,590,642.82 (winning bid)
- Dexter Construction, $20,042,458.74
- Island Coastal Services Ltd., $20,054,559.05
The project was tendered twice before with the bids significantly exceeding the budget both times. This time, additional changes were made to the design to reduce cost and the provincial work that is required to stabilize the embankment and upgrade the structure were included in a combined tender.
The town’s budget for this project is $10.9 million, of which $8.6 million is included in this tender. The remaining $2.2 million will be used for the engineering tendering and decommissioning of the lagoon system once a new triplex pumping station and piping have been commissioned in the fall of 2020.
The provincial and federal governments are also on board as funding partners.
Ogden said the cost of the project will mean a hike to the utility rate for residents. While it has been communicated to residents, the town wasn’t able to supply an exact figure to the media on Wednesday.
Jeremy Crosby, deputy CAO and the director of infrastructure for the town, said right now sewage is transitioned into the lagoon through 29 pumping stations.
That will be replaced with a new triplex pumping station where dual-forced mains will carry the wastewater along the highway, under the Hillsborough Bridge and back up along the highway to the Charlottetown plant.
Crosby said the work will result in traffic delays on the bridge. The public will be notified beforehand.