By Morgan Hughes-Davies
Feb. 16, 2012
Charlottetown city council has reached an agreement with the provincial government to share the cost of a new sewer system.
Sewage from the city currently flows untreated into the nearby Hillsborough River and the proposed overhaul, called the storm sewer separation project, is an attempt to stop the untreated flow.
The cost of the project is estimated at $18.8 million, however the cost is expected to increase to $24 million by the end of the project.
The provincial government would share some of the cost of construction, but in return, the city would take on $6 million in debt.
Coun. Cecil Villard, in charge of managing the finances of the project, said Charlottetown residents should get ready for an increase in sewer rates to pay for the overhaul.
“In the end, the city utility will need to take on $6, 242, 102 in new debt to cover one-third of the cost for the project. This debt will cost utility approximately $500, 000 per year to service. In order to meet this additional cost, the sewer rates for the city of Charlottetown will increase by $30 per year to its customers.”
However, Villard also said Charlottetown residents should expect no additional price increases.
“It is important to note that in 2012, this is the only increase that will be required of our water and sewer customers.”
Villard said the lack of additional price increases would depend upon the federal government holding up its end of the deal.
“This is assuming that there will be an applicable infrastructure program available in 2014 which will bring the federal government onside with this project.”
Lee was quick to praise the provincial government, and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Robert Vessey in particular, for their contribution to the project.
“Certainly, without the financial support of the province of P.E.I., I’m not sure where we would be today without this project, and I know minister Vessey and I have had more discussions on this.”
Vessey, speaking on behalf of the provincial government, said the project will improve the infrastructure of the whole city by improving a part of the city.
“Sewer overflows and harbour closures will be a thing of the past once this work is complete. All residents stand to benefit from the work, especially fishermen. They depend on the Charlottetown harbour for at least part of their livelihood, and when harbour closures are in effect, it greatly impacts their industry.”
Charlottetown city administration has contacted various contractors and engineering companies to begin bidding on the contract.
Coun. Eddie Rice said he felt companies were contacted by administration too quickly.
“They have a list of engineers and engineering companies. They’re being contacted today, which I thought was even too fast, but we’re moving today.”
It will take three years to complete the project which will be accomplished in four phases. So far, there will be an initial investment of $18.8 million in the project, however the cost is expected to increase to $24 million by 2014. The provincial government has agreed to cover one-third of the cost.
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