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$205 M needed for 26 km of water and sewer lines in Prince Rupert

City Council to approve up to $40 M in borrowing at May 8 meeting
A potential of $40 million in borrowing will be decided at the Prince Rupert City council meeting on May 8, after the fourth reading of the Five-year Financial Plan. First, second and third reading occurred four days prior on May 4. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern view)

A new, up to $40 million amendment to the city’s Five Year Financial Plan was given first, second and third reading in a Special Meeting of Prince Rupert City Council on May 4.

The financial plan also includes the 2023 budget with 12.5 per cent property tax increase.

The fourth reading and potential adoption of the city bylaw 2023-3517 will occur at the regular city council meeting on May 8 (tonight), starting at 7 p.m. The public is permitted to offer comments at the beginning of the meeting regarding anything listed on the agenda.

Last week, city residents and tax-payers were given just less than 27 hours’ to take note and attend the May 4 meeting, of which notice was posted on the City of Prince Rupert’s web page and social media accounts.

A reminder about the meeting, inviting the public to offer comments, went out on social media just less than 30 minutes prior to the special council meeting on Thursday at 4 p.m.

In a meeting summary posted on the city’s social media page, a statement notifies the public the Five-year Financial Plan was amended during the budget process and since it was originally presented to the council.

“[The amendments] include proposed potential borrowing for sewer works that are planned to be conducted alongside critical water main replacements that are proceeding with Provincial grant funding. The city is proposing to potentially borrow up to $40 million for sewer replacement in order to be eligible for Federal funding,” the summary states.

The three readings on the Five-year Financial Plan were passed unanimously. However, Property Tax Bylaw 2023-3528 was opposed by Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa and upheld by the rest of the council present. Councillor Reid-Skelton Morven was not in attendance.

In the meeting agenda report authored by Corinne Bomben, Chief Financial Officer for the city, she states the total estimate for replacing the water and sewer mains on the critical 26 kilometre portion of the failing infrastructure is $205 million. This has now been included in the financial plan.

Giving a breakdown of costs, Bomben explained $5 million is for engineering and design, $130M is for water works and the remaining $70M is for “similar vintage and condition sewer lines.”

“These must be replaced at the same time as the water mains since the failure of the sewer lines could also impact adjacent infrastructure and potentially cause the water system to fail. It would be far more costly and disruptive to the community to excavate the same road system twice to replace these systems at different times.”

Bomben stated that city staff are working to raise funds from the Federal government and secure additional sources of revenue to minimize the financial impact on taxpayers.

Of the total $205M cost for the needed water and sewer mains, $65M has been secured from a Provincial grant. However, the city is proposing to borrow $5M for engineering and design, with an additional borrowing of $40 M for sewers and the remaining $95M is hoped to come from grants applied for.

K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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