A Red Deer-to-Lacombe wastewater line was celebrated as a model of green thinking and government co-operation at an official commissioning in Lacombe on Friday.
The 28-km line went into operation about a month ago. Construction began last spring in and came in on time and, at just under $70 million, came in under its $71-million budget.
It was the second leg of a three-leg regional wastewater system that began with a Red Deer-to-Olds line completed several years ago. Planning is already underway to begin construction on the final Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer link this year.
When complete, the regional wastewater system will be one of the largest of its kind in North America.
The federal and provincial government’s picked up 90 per cent of the cost and will be asked to do the same for the third leg.
Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said the kind of co-operation between municipalities and with other levels of government is exactly what the government has embraced.
“It’s part of a broader program of infrastructure investment that includes transportation, provides clean drinking water to people and makes sure our lakes and rivers are kept as clean as possible,” said Mason.
The province and the federal government have already signed a second bilateral infrastructure agreement. Almost $3.4 billion has been allocated to Alberta over the next decade for public transit, green infrastructure; community, culture and recreation infrastructure and rural and northern communities infrastructure.
Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi said the project is part of the government’s commitment to invest in important projects around the country.
Under previous governments, funding was doled out “ad hoc,” he said. The Liberal government’s financial support is aimed at providing long-term and sustainable government support.
Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said the city’s sewage treatment was at capacity. Without a regional sewage line the municipality would have had to invest millions in what have been a short-term fix.
Not having enough sewage treatment capacity limited investment opportunities.
“Some of the larger (water) users, naturally, would not look at your community,” he said.
The completion of the sewage line shows that Lacombe is “open for business” and will be for generations to come, he said.
“I’m confident it was the best route to take.”
Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole said given the growth pressure communities were feeling a regional approach was the only sure way to be successful.
Communities worked together to ensure that the project was “shovel-ready” when the financing was announced.
Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law said the regional partnership recognizes that people do not live, work and recreate in one municipality.
“We are so fortunate in Central Alberta to have such strong partnerships that help joint ventures become a reality.”