Grand Forks and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary are slated to receive millions of dollars in federal and provincial funds to revamp area water systems, Ottawa said Thursday, Aug. 12.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of what MLA Roly Russell has called “an infrastructure deficit” across Southeastern B.C.
Russell, who represents the riding of Boundary-Similkameen, noted that Grand Forks’ aging drainage works didn’t hold up well against severe flooding that swamped the city’s downtown core in May 2018. Mayor Brian Taylor agreed, saying the city’s storm sewers had been “one of our weak points” leading up to the flood.
The city plans to use its share of the funds, roughly $3.4 million, to pay for stormwater drainage improvements, mostly in the downtown core. That project will replace storm sewer pipes, catch basins and manhole coverings on Market Avenue, 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets and 72 Avenue at an estimated cost of $4.2 million, according to a 2020 staff report to city council.
The city will add roughly $1.2 million from the city’s reserve funds to the project, Taylor said. Council will have the option to borrow money to pay for its contribution, he added.
None of that money is earmarked for Grand Forks’ sewer system. Taylor qualified that council would very likely consider setting aside more money to replace aging sewer and water mains unearthed during construction. That bill would be relatively minor, with most of that money covering the cost of new pipes.
Upgraded storm sewer works will connect to some of the floodworks paid for by the Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund (DMAF), but the projects are separate, Taylor explained.
The RDKB will receive a roughly $46-million grant through the same funding stream, to which the regional district is adding roughly $16.8 million. That grant will fund upgrades to the RDKB’s sewage treatment plant at the Columbia Pollution Control Centre.
The centre treats wastewater from Rossland, Warfield and the greater Trail areas, according to RDKB spokesperson Frances Maika.
The grants will be issued through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, through which around $110 million dollars in federal and provincial funds will go to a total of 14 water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades across B.C. All grant recipients are contributing to their respective shares, according to Infrastructure Canada.