Extension will save communities millions

A deadline extension will save millions of dollars for communities, including Clearwater County, that fell behind on projects funded through a federal economic stimulus program.

A deadline extension will save millions of dollars for communities, including Clearwater County, that fell behind on projects funded through a federal economic stimulus program.

Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the government of Canada has extended the deadline for communities to complete projects funded through the stimulus package announced in February of 2009.

It included a deadline of March 31, 2011, for projects to be completed or they would face losing part or all of their funding.

That deadline has now been extended to Oct. 31, 2011.

Clearwater County CAO Ron Leaf said that the extension gives his municipality some welcome breathing room on a 50-km paving project that suffered rain delays during the 2010 construction season.

The county was promised $4.3 million in federal money toward paving the Sunchild Road, which runs north to the Brazeau Dam from Hwy 11, west of Rocky Mountain House.

All but two km of the heavily used gravel road lie in Clearwater, with the final section running into Brazeau County.

Clearwater County split the project between two construction companies — Pidherney’s and Ledcor, said Leaf. Pidherney’s finished its section this summer, but Ledcor still has five km to go, he said.

“We’re going to have more than enough time now for Ledcor to complete that project in an appropriate manner,” he said.

Clearwater County was among the groups, including provincial premiers, infrastructure ministers and municipalities that lobbied the prime minister and cabinet for provisions to protect those project that would not make the deadline.

“I think (the extension) is an accumulation of all of those efforts and I’m hoping that we played a small part in that,” he said.

Other communities in Central Alberta were able to get their projects completed on time and were therefore were not affected by the deadline extension.

Those projects include the new regional multiplex at Penhold, the Lacombe Athletic Park and two projects in Red Deer.

Dean Krejci, financial services manager for the City of Red Deer, said the economic stimulus program helped finance improvements to the intake for its water treatment plant and helped pay for upgrades to its traffic signals and field systems.

Red Deer received a total of $6 million in grants for the two projects, split evenly between the provincial and federal governments, said Krejci.

The Town of Penhold would not have been able to complete its new multiplex, which includes new town offices, without the extra help, said CAO Rick Binnendyk.

The project will be finished by the end of the year and town staff are now in the midst of moving into their new space he said.

Penhold received a total of $5 million toward the $23-million project, with additional help from the province and through local fundraising, said Binnendyk.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com