Strathmore’s future infrastructure needs discussed

·4 min read

The future growth of Strathmore will require infrastructure upgrades, but for now, the town’s systems are mostly meeting current needs.

The results of master servicing studies (MSS) for the town’s water, sanitary sewer, storm water and transportation systems completed over the last three years were presented to Strathmore town council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Oct. 14. These studies, published about every five years, describe the town’s infrastructure needs, both now and into the future.

The studies help guide future development as well as infrastructure upgrades to be performed by the town, explained Ethan Wilson, Town of Strathmore project engineer. The last full update was provided in 2012, he said.

The water MSS was last completed in 2012, prior to the completion of the East Calgary Regional Water Line (ECRWL), which supplies the town’s water, and the Wildflower Reservoir, which stores it. The new report, completed in April 2020, assessed the town’s water system under three scenarios: existing conditions (13,515 residents), interim growth to 2052 (30,703 residents) and full build-out (70,506).

The assessment found that under these three scenarios, the existing water system provides adequate pressure to all areas for home use in town. However, there are a couple areas where fire pressures (higher pressures needed for firefighting) are verging on being outside limits, said Wilson.

Reservoir storage exceeds requirements by more than double. This means the Brentwood Reservoir, which is “showing its age,” can be decommissioned without requiring a new reservoir being constructed over the short term, said Wilson.

The interim growth phase would be helped by ultimately expanding capacity and upgrading the pumps at the Wildflower Reservoir, however.

The ECRWL is projected to supply the town with enough water until 2052. Then, the town will have to source additional capacity or look into adding a pump to the system to increase water supply.

In total, it is estimated that the town’s water supply and storage system will require about $40 million of upgrades over the next 20 years.

The town’s existing sanitary system consists of a main trunk, a couple off-branches and an eastern trunk to service The Ranch and all communities east of George Freeman Trail. The sanitary MSS, produced in May 2017, focuses on the main trunk system of the town.

The assessment concluded the existing system is currently adequate, but the main trunk will require upgrades at key areas, including through the Orchard Park and Spruce Park areas south of Highway 1 and across Highway 1 to the fire hall.

Other upgrades in older parts of town, such as the Lakeside Blvd. corridor, will be needed depending on the speed of development in the communities feeding into this trunk, according to the report. The eastern trunk is newer, so it has the capacity to serve all planned communities from which it will receive sewage.

Upgrades to the sanitary main trunk are estimated to cost $2.8 million, partially funded through off-site levies, and will be tracked in the capital project plan for the next two to five years.

The last stormwater MSS was completed in 2002 with updates performed in 2006 and 2018. However, the 2018 update may require adjustment to match the requirements of the Cooperative Stormwater Management Initiative (CSMI) between Rocky View County, Wheatland County, the Town of Chestermere and the Town of Strathmore.

Town staff are recommending the construction of a new storm pond at the southernmost point of the system. This would consist of a main pond and three smaller evaporation/infiltration ponds constructed on a quarter section of town-owned land known as the “pivot fields”. The cost of this project, for which a geotechnical and dam break study was performed in November 2018, will be about $7 million, funded through off-site levies.

The new stormwater pond would support additional development throughout the east of Strathmore, said Wilson.

The new Transportation Master Plan, completed in September 2020, abandons a proposed ring road system around Strathmore.

“We’re not a town that’s big enough (to) need a ring road,” said Wilson. “We’ve got our main corridors through town, especially the highways.”

This transportation considered two 2049 scenarios: one incorporating Alberta Transportation’s design for a potential Highway 1 bypass around Strathmore, and one without it.

It was determined many intersections could be improved with modifications to signal timing or signage, but that existing road capacities are well above current volume and short-term updates are not required.

Future growth will require investment in roads, including the twinning of both Wheatland Trail and George Freeman Trail, as well as a western arterial road, located west of Wildflower and Lakewood Meadows, to accommodate additional traffic.

The cost of these upgrades varies on timeframe, from a couple million over the next few years, to $40 million over 20 years, reported Wilson.

The studies will be brought to council for full adoption in November. As much of this infrastructure will be funded by off-site levies, adjustments to the offsite levy bylaw will be subsequently brought to council, citing these reports.

Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times