At County Council

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Water line flows on, cheap

Alcomdale residents will finally be able to drink from their taps as of next March – and for almost $100,000 less than expected.

Sturgeon County council awarded the Weaver Group a $3.1 million contract Tuesday to build a new water line to Alcomdale. The county has budgeted about $4.1 million for the project, almost all of which will be covered by federal and provincial grants.

Alcomdale has been under a boil-water advisory since June 21, 2013, after new provincial rules determined that its well water was unfit to drink.

The advisory has affected property values and forced residents to live off of bottled water, said Chris Hancock, president of the Alcomdale Local Development Corp.

In 2014, council decided to build a new water line to the community.

The winning bid came in about 42 per cent below than what the county had expected to pay for this project, said Jeff Yanew, the county’s utilities operations supervisor. As federal and provincial grants are covering 90 per cent of the water line’s cost, this means that the county is on the hook for about $414,695, or about $99,435 less than anticipated. The county expects to recoup this cash in 15 years by charging the line’s users $1 per cubic meter of water.

This was one of many projects that the federal and provincial government had put out to tender at once, and companies were fighting very hard to get them, said county utilities capital project officer Roger Borchert, when asked about the low bid.

“I was running a little scared when we were going out to tender on this one, and am very pleased to see these kinds of numbers.”

Coun. Jerry Kaup, whose riding includes Alcomdale, joked that it was a good thing that they had four-year terms in office, as it’s taken that long for this project to be completed.

“It’s been a goal (of mine) since I got back on council four years ago,” he said in an interview.

The water line will encourage more growth in the county and could potentially provide water to the Morinville Hutterite Colony, Kaup said. While there were still a few right-of-way issues to address, he was confident that this project would be built by next February.

Hancock applauded loudly when council awarded the contract, and later said that Alcomdale residents were very happy to see this line go ahead.

Big capital bucks

Tax cash from the Sturgeon Refinery will fuel some $100 million in construction in Sturgeon County in the next three years, including the rebuild of Meadowview Drive.

County council approved its three-year capital plan Tuesday. The plan outlines some $100.9 million in projects the county will implement in the next three years to study, design and build roads, pipes and bridges.

About $19.8 million of this cash will be spent next year. This includes $3.6 million in work on Rural Route 233 near Hillsborough Heights and $1.5 million to fix the Villeneuve sewage lagoon.

One big-ticket item is the rebuild and realignment of Meadowview Dr. – a heavily used road that runs west of St. Albert. The plan includes some $16.4 million in work on it in the next three years, with the project not expected to be complete until 2021.

About $5.2 million of next year’s cash will come from taxes paid by the Sturgeon Refinery, a report to council suggests. About 60 per cent of the tax cash from the refinery will go towards road projects in this capital plan in 2019.

Mayor Tom Flynn said this plan was a big step forward for the county, adding that the county had never before been able to do this much work to enhance its roads.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.