A move that has been a long time coming has finally been approved by city council. In a special council meeting, the City approved the necessary steps to begin construction of the new wastewater treatment plant with a long process.
The first step taken by the city will be procuring contractors, designers and a vendor for treatment technology. A team will then work to understand, conceptualize and set targets for the project. This step will also ensure it meets required regulations such as greenhouse gas mitigation and climate resilience assessments. After this stage, the project will be designed before construction begins in 2021.
The whole project is set to begin this month with construction ending in 2023. Costs on Lloydminster’s part are projected to surpass $32.5 million, a fraction of the total costing $81.5 million. The majority of the funding is coming from provincial and federal sources, Coun. Jonathon Torresan says the City’s portion will come from debt over the course of the project.
“As the years go by, we’re going to budget for additional draws where we’re going to have to finance that with debt,” says Torresan. “So there is going to be debt coming from this project overall.”
While the work to begin the project has only just begun, Torresan celebrates the progress thus far as a team effort. He acknowledges the many efforts made by him, Mayor Gerald Aalbers and other city councillors took it upon themselves to raise the issue as much as possible with other levels of government.
Torresan praised Aalbers in particular, noting the instance they attended the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference together and Aalbers guessed where the federal minister of infrastructure would exit to catch a few words with him. Torresan says this is only one of many instances where Aalbers worked hard to raise the issue at hand.
“He even just got a couple (of) minutes in front of him to bring the issue forward once again. I’ve seen him do that on countless occasions with anyone who has any kind of political clout to get this issue brought up to them, so he could keep it high on the agenda for anyone who would listen.”
Mayor Aalbers also sees this as a win for the team. He and other councillors and the City’s administration have worked hard to push this project. It’s been brought to the attention of two federal ministers, three minister and two premiers in Saskatchewan, four of Alberta’s ministers and two Alberta premiers. Aalbers believes this kind of hounding is necessary for the city to bring all the necessary parties together.
“We are a border community; we’re bi-provincial, so that means it takes a little bit more work to get everybody in (our) side,” says Aalbers. “It’s not every day you hear about a bi-provincial relationship with two provinces and the federal government coming together. It’s a great day for Lloydminster.”
Currently, $9 million has been budgeted for the project this year. It’s also mandated to be replaced by the end of the current wastewater treatment plant’s permit expiry on December 21, 2020. Current construction timelines aren’t expected to be finished until late 2023, and Mayor Aalbers says he’ll be speaking with levels of government to extend the permit and help them understand the city’s situation.
“We were told we couldn’t move forward without the funding and we knew we couldn’t afford to build the plant. There are requirements of the funding program that everything has to be approved before we move forward. So here we are now, July of 2019, just starting to move forward. I’m hoping we can come to a reasonable solution to this, otherwise, in 2020 we’ll have an interesting discussion.”
Aalbers believes it would be counterproductive for the federal and provincial regulators to fine or penalize the city after only recently approving the project’s funding. Conditions and penalties for the project have both been set by the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.