FALL RIVER: The Fall River water project should be underway later this summer, although the price tag for residents along Fall River Road has increased by almost half. It will also be done in two phases.

During a break at HRM Regional Council on July 18 at City Hall, Councillor Steve Streatch spoke of the unanimous passing of first reading of the Fall River Water Servicing project. That now sets up second reading and a public hearing “in the very near future.”

Initially the project had been aimed for just Fall River Road to Highway 2 at the lights by Sobeys. It was then changed to include all the way down to the Hwy 102 overpass by Inn on the Lake. That part has had to be rejigged due to funds available, so will be part of phase 2.

“The motion that we passed here today gives HRM staff the authority to reach out to our finding partners at the province and feds for funding,” said Streatch. “We cannot wait and potentially jeopardize the whole project waiting for that funding to come through. We’ve got to start.

“It would be my hope that by the time that we get to Hwy 2 at the lights, that same contractor would then have the money to continue phase two right until just past Inn on the Lake.”

He said the paperwork has been submitted to the federal government and all indications are that the year’s extension on the project deadline will be granted.

The estimated price tag for residents was $7,500; however Streatch said that has now risen to approximately $11,500 with the costs that came in from the tenders.

In council chambers, Streatch explained the background to the water project, including having gone to the community and the tendering process. Those tenders—three of them—came back well over $3 million over the budgeted price tag for the whole project.

“The tenders came back and were way off what we had in front of us,” he said to his fellow colleagues. “We regrouped and tried to find a path forward.

“I believe the way forward is before us now.”

While he would not say who the lowest bidder was, HRM is negotiating with them and they have held their price as staff works on finding avenues to cover their price.

As part of the motion, HRM will add an additional $75,000 to their $25,000 that they had earmarked for the project. That means they will now be putting in $100,000 to the project from HRM’s coffers.

The additional money will likely come from HRM reserves, CAO Jacques Dube told councillors when Councillor Bill Karsten questioned it.

Streatch said the water project has been a difficult one to get a handle on.

“We are committed to the whole project,” he said.

He expects excavators to be on site very soon.

“I would expect later this summer to see activity in Fall River,” said Streatch.