Millions pondered for future growth west of Blackfalds

Council is considering spending millions now as part of long-range vision to boost future development west of Blackfalds.

LACOMBE COUNTY — Council is considering spending millions now as part of long-range vision to boost future development west of Blackfalds.

The town is embarking on a water and sewer line project on its west side and if the county acts quickly it can pay extra to ensure the lines are big enough to serve the county’s industrial park on the other side of Hwy 2.

“It’s an opportunity,” Hager told council Thursday.

“Like I say, if we don’t take the opportunity we lose if for a number of years.”

But taking the long view on economic development comes at a cost. Using bigger sewer and water lines to provide enough capacity for the county would cost $3.5 million.

The county faces another $1 million if it wants services extended under the highway now.

“In the long term, yes, I can see the benefits of it,” said Hager. “But it is a significant investment up front.

“I guess you would look at it as an investment for the future.”

Providing full services to the industrial area would help attract more intensive industries than are currently setting up shop in the area and are served by wells.

The economic slowdown also means there are cost advantages in tendering the work now, he said

Councillor Ken Wigmore supported spending the money to be ready for the future.

“I think it would be a good step in the right direction because we know that eventually we’ll want water and sewer over there.”

Council voted unanimously to ask engineering consultants working on the Blackfalds project to provide detailed cost estimates and plans for boosting the size of the lines.

If the county opts to go ahead, the project could be funded using money from a reserve funds, government grants and through off-site levies charged to developers before they begin building.

The municipality was also faced with footing the bill to ensure a sewer line is big enough being built from Sylvan Lake to a new sewage receiving station in the county at Aspelund Road and Hwy 20.

Council was told it could cost $410,000 to guarantee the line is big enough to serve future development.

“All our development plans around Sylvan Lake are predicated on us providing this (sewer) service,” said Hager. Council unanimously agreed to put aside up to $430,000 to ensure sewage lines are oversized.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com