Governments to fund regional waterline from Cold Lake to Bonnyville
“I’m having a fantastic day!” Mayor of Bonnyville Gene Sobolewski was elated on Thursday afternoon after ten years of hard work, he received the news that the waterline from Cold Lake to Bonnyville had been approved. Sobolewski says the Town will immediately begin working with the Municipal District of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake to continue to get this project on the go and the public could even see ground break before the end of the year.
We need to make sure our execution is such that we can start moving on the waterline as soon as possible. – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
The Mayor explains the engineering studies, governance models and other background work happens concurrently, “we have to start awarding construction as soon as possible. It all depends on the protocols that we use, we could start executing the design builds and start construction over the winter. If we start moving in that direction.” According to the Federal announcement, the anticipated start date for the project is November 1st, 2016. There are a multitude of steps before ground break, including the City of Cold Lake’s involvement in the project. “There’s a lot of work that has to happen, but we’re prepared. It includes working with our neighbours, the MD, Cold Lake First Nations, and the City.”
Mayor of Cold Lake Craig Copeland explains there’s some steps on their part as well. “We’ll have to dive into the funding to figure out if there’s going to be some upgrades to existing infrastructure that’ll benefit Cold Lake residents. We have to sit down with the manager of the project with the Province to figure out who pays for what. Everybody knows the issues in Bonnyville with the quality of the drinking water, so everybody wants to come together to fix that.” Mayor Copeland anticipates some upgrades to the water treatment plant will be required, “it has the capacity to handle that many people. Upgrades would be more for buying the membrane filtration units. We’re going to have a hard look at it to see how much it would cost for the rate payers of Cold Lake; but certainly for safe drinking water for the region that’s what this is all about – treating everybody equally.”
There is a grant application in place for a study to ensure the level of the lake is monitored and maintained with the additional draw. “Just another look at the lake level to ensure it can meet the demand,” explains Mayor Copeland. “We’ll just have to work on the governance, who’s going to run the system.” The RUSC (Regional Utilities Service Commission) will be heavily involved in the project with a lot of those discussions and governance done through RUSC over the next few weeks.
“The City of Cold Lake is interested in possibly forming a utility company, as a business option. The company (should it come to be) would be ran by the City of Cold Lake. “There’s a lot of responsibility to run the waterline. As Mayor I have a lot of confidence in City staff in being able to operate a water utility company and being able to provide the water to an end point. As a region, I think, it’s in the best interest for everybody if the City operated the utility company. How it gets to your house will be the municipalities responsibility.” Mayor Copeland explains ideally, the City would be responsible to get the water to the Town of Bonnyville’s reservoir and the Town would then be responsible to distributing it to the houses. “We’re going to have a hard look at it for Council.”
The Government had previously approved the governance work on the project; which is basically the background work. “Imagine my surprise when I got a call to meet at the Legislature for an announcement,” Mayor Sobolewski says he received the call just this week. “This is fantastic news! We have the Government of Alberta and the Federal Government all recognizing the importance of this project.”
I have such heartfelt thanks to the Provincial Government, Brian Mason, for all the hard work he has done to make sure this project went through. – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
“There’s a lot of ground that needs to be covered and luckily we have some veterans on our Council that have been involved in this project since the beginning since day one; including yours truly,” Mayor Sobolewski gives props to his fellow Council members and former Mayor Ernie Isley for their dedication to seeing the project through. “I’m very proud of our Council and staff for being able to reach out and in some cases stand out to take some of the negativity – to always look at the bigger picture. This waterline has been on our radar for over ten years.” The waterline is a big piece of Bonnyville’s Mayor mandate, “it’s part of why I was elected and part of my mandate, that’s basically what I ran on. It’s definitely a proud moment, standing between the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi and Honourable Brian Mason.”
We are ecstatic & I hope the public celebrates with us in this achievement! – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
“The other big discussion that needs to be had is water for Cold Lake First Nations, and other First Nations and Municipalities. The Federal Government and the Province will figure that all out, what’s the best option. I’m sure it’ll all come together over the winter,” Mayor Copeland explains there’s more discussions to be had in regards to other neighboruing communities and their water source. Mayor Sobolewski says the waterline wouldn’t be possible without positive relationships with rural neighbours, “look at how far we’ve come with our partnership efforts, because of that everything is coming into place and we’re being recognized.”
Mayor Copeland says it’s great to finally be noticed with national funding. “We haven’t seen a capital project funded to this magnitude from the Federal Government in quite some time. Outside of the airforce base, we haven’t seen a Federal contribution this large to the Lakeland area. I’ve been in this business since ’04 and I don’t recall any money coming our way. It’s nice to see some Federal dollars coming back, especially with all the money [the Lakeland] are has sent to Ottawa over the years.”
An added bonus to the project is the amount of work it’ll bring to the area, says Mayor Copeland “there will be chances for local companies to bid on projects. We have a lot of people unemployed, so if you look from an employment standpoint, it’s great. It’ll be a good project for some of the local companies to bid on, the marketplace is very competitive right now.”
The majority of the cost of the waterline will be taken on by the Provincial and Federal Governments, with the Federal Government putting in $32,443,200. Although too early to quote a cost, Mayor Sobolewski expects 10 to 15 percent of the total cost to be paid for by the local municipalities. How that is split between the local municipalities is an equation that still needs to be solved.