Despite earlier reports, the regional waterline extending to Bonnyville from Cold Lake is $11 million over budget. That means the project will require additional help from the province, or local governments, the Town of Bonnyville or Municipal District of Bonnyville, to complete. They will not move forward until the project is fully funded.
The majority of funding from the federal government is on a timeline so there is pressure to award contracts for the project soon.
The funding from government for the original tender was $72 million. Right now, the cost totals $83 million. That amount covers three of the four phases of the project, and therefore those tenders as well.
The reason its over budget is the quote for the water treatment plant wasn’t known until a couple weeks ago.
Bob Buckle, chair of the Cold Lake Regional Water Commission, says that until all four phases have secured funding, they will not move ahead with awarding contracts because they don’t want changes made along the way.
“The tenders have been received, they’re probably good to go. But we’re not interested as the Cold Lake Water Commission awarding three of the four. Not without confirmation that the funding is going to be there for the fourth phase. We just don’t think that would be prudent.”
After knowing that a lot of repairs need to be done to the Cold Lake water treatment plant for it to handle the additional workload, Buckle says it isn’t surprising the project is over budget.
“How receptive the provincial government will be to funding additional monies is to be determined,” said Buckle. “The government set it up for 90 cent dollars. There may or may not have been discussions regarding 100 per cent funding. How likely that may be is hard to determine because no one has made that final commitment.”
“In other words, the Bonnyville regional commission feels there is a good chance they can get 100 per cent funding on it. I don’t necessarily know that.”
According to sources, the Bonnyville commission has had talks with the province about funding the rest of the project, and hopes to know soon whether the province will help.
Last week, Cold Lake First Nation had expressed an official letter of concern saying they want to be consulted on the water treatment plant. It is getting work done so it can extend to supply water farther.
“There’s been a request of consultation for the water treatment plant. We don’t know how long that will take or not take, or whether we can start construction earlier or not. We don’t know what the impact will be,” said Buckle.
As part of the new deal, Cold Lake First Nations will also get water from Cold Lake.