The RMWB is moving forward with the costliest project in the region’s history.
On Tuesday, council voted to continue the work being done on the rural water, sewer, and road rehabilitation program, as it stood, ensuring rural residents south of Fort McMurray will have running water.
This project will connect homes in Anzac, Conklin, Draper, Gregoire Lake Estates, Janvier, and Saprae Creek to water pipe systems.
“I believe that the urban councillors are starting to see how important this is to the rural communities, that we have a service that is equal to that, not similar, of Fort McMurray,” said Ron Quintal, Spokesperson for Rural Coalition.
Council was also given the option to add onto the project.
After getting feedback from residents living in the affected areas administration brought forward four different additional suggestions.
This included adding more lift stations in Anzac and Conklin, upgrading low-pressure sewers, and updating water distribution for fire hydrants in Draper and Janvier.
This would have cost an additional $57 million and delay the project by at least a year.
However, council voted to keep the project the same, focusing on making sure these communities get water and sewage pipes as soon as possible.
“We have to start with the basics and go from there, this is one of those basics that we can’t consider to not have,” said Councillor Colleen Tatum. “Hoping sometime in the future, perhaps we can add on to it and do some other enhancements to the community but the people I’ve talked to, heard tonight, they just want to have that water, let’s start with the basics.”
Quintal shared the same views.
“I believe closing that gap will come soon after.”
In total, the project is expected to cost $301 million. The only difference is the allocation of funds as administration is now putting more money into road repairs.
“We talk about the budget, I understand that it is steep but I don’t think we can put a price on health to our rural hamlets,” said Councillor Phil Meagher.
Nearly 100 per cent of the homes will be able to connect to the main pipes, under the main roads in each community, but 37 properties in Anzac and Conklin will need an additional tank.
All homes in these communities will be using a gravity-based pipe system, however, these homes are below the main road, making gravity useless.
The tank will make sure their sewage and water will still be able to connect to the main line.
So far, $47 million of the budget has been used as one of the 20 contracts being handed out for the project has already completed their work in Conklin. These homes will still have to wait for the main lines to be put in.
Work is underway in all the areas except for Draper. Because of the terrain and wildfire, administration is holding off construction until the spring of 2018.
Construction is expected to be finished in all communities by early 2019.