FALL RIVER: The water study looking at the costing to bring city water down Fall River Road and all the way to just past Inn on the Lake on Highway 2 indicates it’s doable with the funding the project is receiving.
Steve Streatch, the HRM regional councillor for District 1 Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley, provided The Laker with some insight into what the results of the study will tell residents at a Feb. 27 public meeting. He called it “a good news story” for Fall River.
“I’m pleased to say that in discussions with staff, the HRM is now going to bring forward that the water system being delivered to Fall River, will be one phase,” said Streatch. “That phase will include the complete job that we have been working towards over the past couple of months.”
The one phase will bring it down Windsor Junction Road, down Fall River Road to the Sobeys and then turning and going down Hwy 2 to past Inn on the Lake at the Hwy 102 interchange.
He said with a March 2018 construction completion deadline, work will begin this Spring meaning it could be a second straight summer of construction causing traffic headaches along Fall River Road, after the replacement of the bridge did so in 2016.
Streatch said the proposal that will be presented to residents at a public meeting on Feb. 27 at Georges P. Vanier Junior High will show the complete job. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
He said from his understanding the burden on property owners will remain the same for all, through a Fall River Local Improvement Charge (LIC). The LIC for residential properties with 1-3 dwelling units will be $7,500; for smaller mixed-use properties $7,500; those will be collected through the tax bills and can be done so over a 20 year period so residents won’t have to pay it all upfront. Meanwhile, for larger commercial, multi-unit residential, and vacant properties, the LIC will be based on both parcel size and road frontage.
Streatch praised HRM staff for their due diligence in bringing forward the project in such a timely manner, as well as the cooperation received from the Halifax Water Commission. MP Darrell Samson had said the federal funding was to bring the water just down to Highway 2/Sobeys. That is what the original ask was from the previous council of HRM.
“In my view that was only doing half a job,” said Streatch. “If we were going to inconvenience this community, and make no doubt about it this will be painful, there will be traffic interruptions, but at the end of the day it will be short-term pain for long-term gain.”
He said over the past couple of the months he along with HRM staff have worked behind the scenes to bring about “economies of scale” that would accomplish many different objectives. Streatch said the Water Commission has offered up to install oversized pipes at no extra charge.
“They also saw the benefit of running the water system down Hwy 2 to replace a system that has arsenic contamination on Miller Road, and replacing the small system in the Lockview Road area,” said Streatch.
He said the estimate that came back was such that the funding the project is receiving through the feds’ Clean Water and Wastewater Fund will be almost enough to cover the full cost, which will be $8 million. Between the federal and provincial governments, they are contributing $4 million and $2 million respectively.
Streatch said people will be able to provide comments, interest for additional coverage area, opting out of service, and more at the Feb. 27 meeting. He understands not everyone will want to hook up to city water.
“There will be people who don’t want have the need for central water, their well water is good enough,” he said. “My experience is … after time most people see the merits of hooking up to central services.
“At this particular time anyone that does not want to use water will not have to pay a water charge. They will however be subject to the LIC.”
Streatch said the level of funding received for the project, which previous councillor Barry Dalrymple, MP Darrell Samson, and MLA Bill Horne all have championed, is likely something that won’t come around again for a very long time.
“This is a great win for Fall River and a great win for rural HRM,” said Streatch. “If we did not take advantage of the economies of scale right now and do the whole project to benefit as many property owners as possible, then that opportunity would be lost.”