Letters to the Editor

Is the new Ashcroft water treatment plant on time and under budget?

Dear Editor,

As most citizens in the community do, I look forward to the Village newsletter distributed to every mailbox in the community. I like to see what items the mayor and council choose to highlight for the past month and appreciate the calendar of upcoming community events and notices.

It was with some bemusement that I read that the water treatment plant was progressing both “on time and under budget” when the next line read, “The project completion date was the end of June however due to some minor delays with the cold weather, it has been delayed until mid-July.” Could the project be delayed and still be on time and under budget?

I decided to do a search online in an attempt to reconcile this apparent contradiction.

Is the WTP project under budget? A letter dated August 14, 2015 from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure indicated that the Village would receive a federal/provincial contribution of $5,725,356 or two-thirds the entire cost of the WTP project. According to a letter from Urban Systems dated April 17, 2018 they are using the “original” budget of $8,586,036 as per approved Infrastructure Grant to track the overall project costs.

From the figures provided for different phases of the work program using this budget, the project is supposedly proceeding “under budget” or with any cost overruns covered by the contingency allowances.

However, Village Bylaw #809 (Loan Authorization) states that the “estimated cost of constructing the Ashcroft Water Treatment Plant including expenses incidental thereto is the sum of $9,873,263 of which the sum of $4,128,739 is the amount of debt intended to be borrowed.”

A quick calculation of the original budget being used to track project costs and the amount stated in the bylaw shows a difference of $1,287,227 not accounted for. The question that is not so clear is which is the actual budgetary amount? The frontage increase taxpayers will end up paying has been calculated for the higher total.

Is the WTP project on time? A search on the Infrastructure Canada site reveals the forecasted construction end date as April 30, 2019. The letter from Urban Systems dated April 17, 2018 indicates in their detailed work program that the Construction Phase of the WTP project should have been completed by the end of 2018, allowing time for commissioning and final documentation and project wrap-up by June 2019.

The Water Master Plan and grant application could not be found online to verify the final completion date for the WTP project referenced in some communications as March 2020.

The question that is not so clear is why the Official Community Plan passed in October 2018 intimates that residents are already drinking water filtered through the water treatment facility: “In 2018, the Village improved the quality of their drinking water by installing a membrane filtration system. These improvements increased the system’s capacity to cope with water turbidity and other incidents that lead to a higher level of water particulates and bacteria. The drinking water now meets current provincial drinking water guidelines.” A water quality advisory was issued early in November 2018.

Did the available online documents substantiate the assertion in this month’s newsletter? You be the judge, but my research has uncovered some interesting anomalies.

Gloria Mertens

Ashcroft, B.C.


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