Feds take a pass

The federal government has denied economic stimulus dollars for a water treatment project and a multi-million-dollar rink in Red Deer.

The federal government has denied economic stimulus dollars for a water treatment project and a multi-million-dollar rink in Red Deer.

But city officials still have hope that cash will still come through.

Development Services director Paul Goranson said he was a “bit surprised” the construction of an intake to the city’s water treatment plant didn’t receive funding from the Canada-Alberta Building Canada Fund which is investing $30 billion into shovel-ready, municipal infrastructure projects.

The water intake project will allow for growth of the city and surrounding areas.

“It’s something that would benefit the region,” Goranson said on Tuesday.

Goranson remained hopeful that stimulus funding will come through since this was only the first funding phase within Ottawa’s plans to stimulate Canada’s ailing economy. Similarly, the Red Deer Curling Centre’s $14.4-million project proposed for south of 67th Street and west of 30th Avenue was denied funding in the first phase.

Corporate Services director Lorraine Poth said stimulus funding above the Building Canada Fund is still available for the rink.

City officials are still waiting to hear back on federal stimulus funding for the north highway connector project, a large-scale road for the east end of the city.

The water intake, originally estimated at $20 million, is now up for tender.

“It was ready to go and was urgent, so we’ve made the decision to go ahead with the project,” Goranson said on Tuesday.

Under the Building Canada Fund, the water treatment project was eligible to receive $2.3 million each from the provincial and federal governments. The city will currently foot the entire bill through debt and capital reserves.

“We have to recover through water rates any money we invest in the utility,” Goranson said. “If there are grants, we don’t have to recover that. In the long term, it would lead to higher rates.”

Councillor Larry Pimm said he was disappointed to learn the water intake’s application was turned down.

“I just don’t understand — they want projects but when you give them the perfect one, it’s rejected,” Pimm said. “I really object to these competitive programs where someone in Ottawa is saying, ‘you win, you lose.’. . . I’m a little cheesed off.”

Pimm said he would rather see municipalities given money for its choosing and report back to Ottawa on how it’s being used.

The water intake project begins this summer and will continue for over two years.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com