Regional sewer line meeting next week

Central Alberta politicians will meet with Transportation Minister Ric McIver next week to press for money to complete a regional sewer line. Area representatives were dismayed last month when the province balked at covering the full $20 million cost to complete the Olds-to-Red Deer sewage project, based on a funding model that saw the province pick up 90 per cent of the cost and municipalities 10 per cent.

Central Alberta politicians will meet with Transportation Minister Ric McIver next week to press for money to complete a regional sewer line.

Area representatives were dismayed last month when the province balked at covering the full $20 million cost to complete the Olds-to-Red Deer sewage project, based on a funding model that saw the province pick up 90 per cent of the cost and municipalities 10 per cent.

McIver offered communities $10 million, which was rejected by the South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Commission, which is overseeing construction of the line.

Mayor Jim Wood and Coun. Dave Hoar, who is the county’s representative on the commission, will be at the Alberta legislature with other mayors and councillors on April 17 to make their case.

“The message is that this particular project is very important to the region,” said Wood on Tuesday, adding it is important both from health and economic development standpoints.

“We have started a project that needs completion.”

The sewer line was originally expected to cost $107 million and under the Alberta government’s Water for Life Strategy was to be funded in the 90/10 arrangement. Since construction started in 2009, costs have climbed to around $130 million because of inflation, route changes and a decision to stretch the build out over more years.

The commission claims the province was aware of cost increases, but until the recent provincial budget had assured communities the previous funding split would be maintained.

Wood said municipalities are not in position to take up the financial slack.

“It’s extremely important to recognize these costs would be an extreme burden on municipalities.

“It doesn’t make sense to get a project to this level and stop it.

“I’m confident that (McIver) will hear our position.”

Most of the pipeline from Olds to Red Deer has been buried but a stretch from Springbrook to Red Deer and other infrastructure remains incomplete.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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