A new joint funding opportunity from the provincial and federal governments could help the Town of Ladysmith move forward with building a water filtration plant.
Staff will apply to the New Building Canada Fund — Small Communities Fund Program for up to two-thirds of the cost of the $10-million water filtration plant project after being directed to by council on Dec. 15.
The water filtration plant was included in the 2014-2018 Financial Plan as an approved capital project, with construction to take place during 2015-2018, following a filtration pilot study in 2014.
The new Building Canada Fund — Small Communities Fund is a joint grant funding opportunity between the Province of BC and the federal government, and the program provides partial funding for projects that meet specific criteria. The program provides partial funding, where the provincial and federal governments each provide one-third of the project funding and the recipient is responsible for the remainder.
The water filtration plant project was put into the Town’s 2014-2018 Financial Plan and approved at a total cost of $10 million, with borrowing being the major funding source. This came as a result of a 2013 Water Quality Study, which suggested that water filtration was the next step in the requirement to abide by the provincial government’s drinking water regulations.
In a report to council, financial services director Erin Anderson says the Town will need to borrow funds to complete the water filtration plant, and borrowing costs would be funded using a combination of water utility rates charges and parcel taxes.
“If the Town is successful in its application for grant funding as recommended, the amount to be borrowed for this initiative could be reduced to approximately $3 million,” she wrote.
John Manson, the director of infrastructure services, says $10 million is not necessarily the actual cost of the water filtration plant project, but it’s easier to update project costs to a lower number than a higher number.
“We don’t have an accurate cost at this point because we’re still evaluating the technologies,” he told council. “We’re technically shooting high in the grant application. We expect as we get through the pilot testing and zero in on the particular technology that we’re using, we’ll be able to come back with a report that would provide updated project costs. Initially, we don’t expect the cost to be over $10 million, and we hope to see it less than that.”
Through the Town’s permit with the Island Health, the Town must make a decision on the secondary water treatment type by March, explained Manson. This grant application must be completed by Feb. 18, and Manson says the Town could start design in the spring. Island Health expects this filtration system to be up and running by the end of January 2018, according to Manson.