FALL RIVER: Extending the Halifax Water boundary to allow city water to flow down Fall River Road received unanimous support from HRM regional Council last month.
Councillor Steve Streatch said he can remember when he was at council and former councillor Gordie Snow talking about water coming down the Fall River Road. Now the federal and provincial government has announced cost-sharing to see the project go ahead.
“Finally, here we are 20 years later and the project is now at a point where it will be going ahead,” he said. “We are so fortunate to have received infrastructure funding from the federal and provincial governments, which will total approximately 75 per cent of the total capital costs of the project.
“We should not underestimate how important that is. A lot of communities have put in water systems in with no cost-sharing and it has come at great cost as it relates to Local Improvement Charges and frontage charges to the residents.”
He said this type of funding will help keep the costs down for the individual residents, and at the same time will provide a much needed service to our schools, the Gordon R. Snow Community Centre, Station 45 fire, and businesses in the area.
“Currently, there is a two-phased approach being proposed,” said Streatch. “Phase 1 will come down the Fall River Road to the intersection with Highway 2. Phase 2 will go along Highway 2 down to the overpass near the Petro-Canada.
“At this stage, it is in the preliminary planning stages. There will be public meetings. The engineering company has been hired and consultation will start as soon as possible.”
Streatch said people will have the opportunity to ask questions , to talk about financial implications, and make their concerns known.
He encourages as many people as possible, especially those on Highway 2 that would like to see Phase 2 happen “sooner rather than later” to come out and make their voices known.
“I have spoken to several businesses on Highway 2 that have said if we’re going to do this then let’s do it all at the same time,” he said. “That may be in the realm of possibility, and will be greatly determined by the final costs estimates that the engineering firm comes up with over the next few weeks.”
Streatch explained the parameters—whether people off Fall River Road, say in Fall River Village area could hook up to city—have not been set yet.
“It is all part of the engineering,” he said. “I think we all have to appreciate that this has been expedited and the reason is the federal/provincial funding comes with a catch. That is that it has to be complete by the Spring of 2018. That is a very short period of time considering the scope and magnitude of this project.
“When this was discussed at council, the CAO (Jacques Dube) as did I made it very clear that time is of the essence, and that we cannot postpone or delay any consultation or any advancements as it relates to bringing this project forward very quickly.”
He said the funding can be quickly diminished if they spread themselves too thin.
“We need to approach this in a logical way, and not expand or propose expansion too quickly that would reduce the cost-savings that will be incurred by this federal/provincial cost-sharing,” he said.
Streatch said as it relates to how far it goes off the Fall River Road, that too is up for discussion.
“Those points need to be brought forward by members of the public,” he said. “The funding and the system is not limitless. There are limits, and everything has a cost attached to it.
“Within reason, I want to see as many people served as possible, especially considering the level of funding this community has attracted.
He is telling Fall River residents they should keep how fortunate they are at the forefront of their minds going forward.
“This type of opportunity does not come by every day,” said Streatch. “If we don’t take advantage of it now, if we don’t put the planning in place immediately and have a little give-and-take, it could easily be taken away and given to another community.”