Residents of Prince Rupert will soon be raising their glasses to a cup full of clean water, after all three levels of government announced an investment of more than $22 million toward Rupert’s water treatment project.
The funding, announced on Tuesday, will go toward the construction of a new water treatment plant and submarine water pipeline across Fern Channel, the body of water west of the island and East of the mainland, to ensure safe drinking water.
This is phase three of the city’s plan to replace its ageing water infrastructure. Phase 1 saw the burial and replacement of the water supply line from the Woodworth Lake dam to an existing access road and Phase 2, now underway, will see the replacement of the century-old dam.
“In just five years we’ve obtained the grants necessary to conduct all three phases of our water project, ensuring a full overhaul of our water supply infrastructure to provide safe and reliable drinking water to our residents. This project has been the number one priority of council since we took office, and we are incredibly grateful for our partners at the provincial and federal governments for seeing this as a priority with us,” Mayor Lee Brain said.
The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities announced a contribution of more than $12 million, with the province contributing $10 million, and the city allocating $8 million.
“Having safe drinking water is critical to life. I am happy we can provide that to residents and visitors in Prince Rupert. One of the challenges that was discussed is the magnitude of cost and I am really excited we are able to contribute to this and get it done,” MLA Jennifer Rice said.
The city has faced several water crises in the past. In 2016, when Northern Health found higher than the recommended levels of lead in the water at four schools around the city. Most recently, this past holiday season more than 12,000 residents were affected when a microscopic parasite was suspected to be in the water at that time, causing an advisory to be issued.
The funding is part of the federal government’s plan to invest in green infrastructure. Rice said that projects which were eligible for federal funding were those with capacity to alleviate air pollutants, alleviate contaminated soil, among other things.
“[These projects] also reflect our commitment to protecting our ecosystems and fostering sustainable economic growth that will ensure our children and grandchildren can enjoy British Columbia’s beautiful waterways and coastlines for years to come,” said MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones on behalf of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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