Though the Town of Beaverlodge is eligible for more than $293,000 under the Alberta government’s municipal stimulus program, administration is applying for only $141,000 it will use to make upgrades to the lift station.
Timothy Gerwing, Municipal Affairs press secretary, told Town & Country News last week municipalities that don't apply for full amounts will lose access to the rest of the funding on Oct. 1.
“The program guidelines have emphasized the Oct. 1 deadline and the fact that municipalities will lose access to any uncommitted allocations after that date,” Gerwing said.
Since according to www.alberta.ca/municipal-stimulus-program.aspx Beaverlodge is eligible for $293,012, Town & Country News asked mayor Gary Rycroft last week if the town is applying for more dollars.
He said he is unaware that more than $141,000 is available and added acting CAO Tina Letendre, acting chief administrative officer, is currently unavailable.
He said council received a presentation by Associated Engineering “a few weeks ago” and the company told the town it was only eligible for $141,000 in funding.
Associated Engineering proposed the lift station upgrade as a project the $141,000 can go toward, Rycroft said.
Beaverlodge council voted last week to upgrade its sewage lift station.
“The (upgrade) is a project we needed - there’s no doubt about it,” Rycroft said.
“It provides more stability in our infrastructure, because we could eventually have a breakdown and have sewer back- ups all through town. “The (municipal stimulus funding) helps, and everything we can do to stimulate our economy and stabilize our infra- structure is welcome.”
The Alberta government is providing $500 million to municipalities across the province under the municipal stimulus program, in the wake of COVID-19.
Gerwing told the News that after municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard makes a decision on all project applications, she will decide what to do with all uncommitted funding under the program.
Under the program, $2.7 million will go to the County of Grande Prairie, $311,437 to Sexsmith, $180,206 to Wembley and $98,000 to Hythe.
The program is intended to create local jobs and help communities move toward economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.
For a town to secure its funding, its project must begin in 2020 or 2021 and can’t result in tax increases, according to provincial criteria.
In keeping with the provincial criteria, Rycroft said taxes won’t go up as a result of the lift station upgrade.
The Beaverlodge lift station is located at the sewage lagoon and there will be an electrical and building upgrade, Rycroft said.
There has been H2S gas corroding wires and motors at the lift station, necessitating the upgrade which will also prevent further corrosion, Rycroft explained.
The total cost of the upgrade will be about $170,000, and he said if the town only applies for and receives $141,000 the town may draw the rest from reserves.
In addition to the upgrade, Rycroft said the town will explore ways to guard against future sewer backups over the next year, possibly including backup systems.
With one of the objectives of the municipal stimulus program being to create employment, he said he’s hopeful some of the jobs will be local but can’t say for sure.
Associated Engineering will tender the project, he noted.
Rycroft said he hopes the upgrade can begin in the next couple months.
Meanwhile, the Town of Sexsmith is considering extending water and sewer services to the east side of Highway 2 with its funds, said Sexsmith CAO Rachel Wueschner.
The County of Grande Prairie is applying for the funding by identifying two projects the dollars could go toward.
The county’s first preference for the grant is servicing the Five Mile Hall site with water and sewer to prepare for the establishment of new schools in the area.
Alternatively, the county’s funds could support landfill expansion in Clairmont.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News