Project coordinator Paul Nash talks about water quality on a recent tour of the wastewater plant site in Cumberland. Record file photo

Project coordinator Paul Nash talks about water quality on a recent tour of the wastewater plant site in Cumberland. Record file photo

Cumberland hopes grants will offset wastewater work

Village is doubling its chances for help on second phase of project

Cumberland is hoping to double its chances for getting a grant to help with costs for its new wastewater treatment plant.

Earlier this year, project coordinator Paul Nash appeared before council to let them know about escalating costs for the first phase of the work on the plant, which will allow the village to meet regulatory requirements. A project that had been estimated originally at $10 million was now projected to cost about $14.7 million.

This increase pushed the Village of Cumberland to move additional work such as using a reed bed and wetlands to help with treatment into a later, second phase. These features are not mandated but would further improve the treatment process. The first phase covers work on the actual plant to bring the village into compliance.

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The village has already applied for a federal grant to cover the costs, but the project team is now looking to another grant opportunity, the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund, to help. In effect, this will double the village’s chances of getting a large grant to cover costs, along with the reserves the village is using.

Council did agree to apply for the second grant, though the village’s hope is to land one of them. Nash is optimistic about the project’s second phase and its ability to fulfill gas tax grant criteria

“Phase two is all about resilience, either climate and seismic,” he said.

Nash explained the Gas Tax Strategic Priorities Fund is administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and while the application comes after the initial federal application, it is expected to take less time for a response.

In answer to a question from Coun. Vickey Brown at a recent council meeting, Nash explained that the goal is for the project to land one of the grants. If the village finds out it is successful on one grant, it can withdraw the application for the other.

“Both of them will stay active. Hopefully, we will get one or the other of them,” he said.

Council members were happy to support the grant application, especially in that would allow them to continue with the additional measures to improve wastewater treatment.

“Phase two is all the good stuff, in my opinion,” said Coun. Jesse Ketler, who highlighted the reed bed in particular.

Nash also pointed out that as the second phase is not covering regulatory requirements, it should be easier to keep costs under control. The village had more discretion on what to spend, which could mean reducing the scope of the work if costs start to escalate.

In the end, council approved making the application for a grant value of $2,500,000 as well as committing to fund the municipal portion of project — $2,440,000 — using a combination of existing, approved Green Municipal Fund funding and sewer reserves for a total project amount of $4,940,000.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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