By David F. Rooney
City Council has taken the first steps towards finding some kind of solution to the ailing Big Eddy Waterworks situation — steps that likely will include a referendum on merging the independent BEW with Revelstoke’s water system.
During last week’s regular meeting Council decided to hire MMM Group Ltd., a Vancouver-based consulting firm. At the special meeting held on Tuesday, November 4, two consultants from the company were on hand to give Mayor David Raven and Council their first impressions of the BEW system based on a “site visit” and tour of the BEW system with Mike Thomas, Revelstoke’s director of Engineering and Development Services.
While a lot more needs to be done, MMM consultant Jim Roe said he found what he expected to find: a 1950s-era water distribution system for a semi-rural area. He said the assessment MMM has been asked to provide to the City of Revelstoke will include a financial assessment and a long-term capital replacement plan calculated over 30 years.
MMM will provide the City with a draft report within a month and a final draft report by January 16 with the completed final report by January 30. Those are key dates as the City has until mid-February to apply for a Building Canada infrastructure grant from Victoria and Ottawa. And that grant will not be forthcoming unless the City acquires public support for the project either through a referendum or the Alternative Approval Process (AAP). The AAP allows the City to proceed unless more than 10% of the electors sign an elector response form. At that point it must hold a referendum. And unless there is public support for the project the two senior government will not approve a grant.
How big might such a grant be?
Thomas told Council that it won’t be enough to cover the complete cost of whatever work needs to be done. There is, he said, about $136 million in the Canada-BC fund earmarked for communities with populations under 100,000. Whatever the cost of the project Ottawa and Victoria will pay one-third each over 10 years. The City of Revelstoke would have to pay the remaining one-third of the cost. That might mean additional borrowing.
Another key element to senior-government approval is the relative urgency of the project.
“Having a letter from IH (Interior Health) is a big piece of this and I’ve got that,” Thomas said. Interior Health has told the board of the Big Eddy Waterworks that they have five years to improve their system.
BEW has already hired a “highly qualified consultant” to study water quality and source protection within its system, Thomas said.
Mayor David Raven told Council that the work done so far “is a good first step.
You can view the entire special meeting, including maps and other documents by activating the YouTube player below: