By David F. Rooney
MP David Wilks joined Mayor Mark McKee at City Hall early Friday morning to jointly announce a Building Canada grant worth more than $3.6 million to upgrade the troubled Big Eddy Waterworks.
The grant is needed to upgrade the BEW system and ensure that its water remains clean and potable and that its fire flows are adequate to deal with potential residential and commercial fires.
“We are very pleased to receive this funding from the Building Canada Fund,” McKee said. “This financial investment will allow the City… to support residents in Big Eddy to have safe and abundant drinking water now and into the future.”
Wilks said he was very happy to assist the City in its quest for money for the project.
“Back in February the Mayor and Council told me the Big Eddy Waterworks was their main focus and priority,” he said later. “I said I would do everything in my power to get it on the Building Canada list and get it approved. I am happy to be here today to make that announcement. The government of Canada will provide up to $1,892,000. That will be matched by the province with the same amount and the City of Revelstoke will be responsible for all remaining costs.”
The total cost of the project is estimated at $5,678,000.
After making their announcement at City Hall the two men went for coffee at Conversations and then to EZ Rock to reprise the announcement for Shaun Aquiline’s regular Friday morning Mayor’s Report.
I video recorded that 10-minute segment of the Mayor’s Report and you can activate the You Tube Player below to watch Wilks and McKee make the announcement and answer a few questions from Shaun.
The Big Eddy Waterworks system in the Big Eddy has been in existence since the 1950s and it fiercely maintained its independence until Interior Health ordered it to make major upgrades to improve quality and water flows. But the kind of federal and provincial grants for that kind of work was only available to local governments — not independent non-governmental organizations like the BEW. So in August 2014, Don Hall, the BEW’s managing trustee, quietly approached Engineering and Development Services Director Mike Thomas, to see what assistance might be arranged. Discussions ensued and last year the BEW asked if the City would take it over. However, the fire flow problems are such that the Fire Rescue Service attends fires in the Big Eddy with a water truck in tow as water pressure in the neighbourhood is too low. Fire flows in residential areas must be at least 60 litres/second and in commercial areas, 150 litres/second. Click here to read The Current’s original story about the BEW’s woes. Other related stories can be accessed via the Search Field on the right-hand side of the front page.
Council agreed to take it on provided the money could be acquired from the province and the feds (that’s what this is) and that the residents of the Big Eddy agreed, through a referendum, to assume the City’s portion of the project’s costs. If the residents decide not to support the project’s funding then the entire project will be stopped in its tracks and the City will have to return the money to Ottawa and Victoria.
Construction could begin next spring, McKee said.