Tanker trucks fill up at the Anzac water treatment plant, near Anzac, Alta. on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. The Fort McMurray First Nation will also be hooking up to the RMWB’s piped water and sewer program.
A First Nation south of Fort McMurray and the municipality have reached a partnership when it comes to piped water and sewer services.
Fort McMurray #468 First Nation, located near Anzac and Gregoire Lake Estates, has reached an agreement with the RMWB to connect to the municipality’s water and sewer lines once its own water and sewer infrastructure is completed. The First Nation’s installation costs for the reserve’s piped water and sewer infrastructure will be covered by $25 million in funding over five years from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
“If I had to identify one thing that helped make this successful, it was a great relationship that the nation and the municipality committed to building between those two entities,” said Roni-Sue Moran, director of the Industry Relations Corporation, which reports to the FMFN 468’s chief and council.
It took trust on both sides to start investing the time and money it took to move the proposal along, Moran said.
“Because with so many levels of government being involved in this type of approval, you really need to have something substantial to show them before you can even [be considered] for funding.” The First Nation has 708 members, 262 of which currently live on reserve, Moran said. The partnership was partially made possible by the fact that Highway 881 - and the municipal utilities corridor that runs alongside it - crosses right through the middle of the reserve.
The RMWB already provides water to the reserve through a “water tree,” at which trucks can fill up. For wastewater, the First Nation currently uses a settling pond on leased land.
The completion of the new piped water and sewer infrastructure, as well as the connection means the band members will feel valued, Moran said.
It will mean more business opportunities for residents, better utility services for onreserve schools and likely, better roads.
“It creates a more sustainable future for this community,” she said.
In an email last Thursday, the RMWB confirmed the connection was included in project planning and the municipality’s costs to provide the connection were “minimal.”
The connection will also increase the customer base for the municipality’s utility services, Moran said.
“It’s not because we expect the municipality to do a federal reserve favours,” she said. “It’s increasing their volume and their intake, and it’s increasing their client base. So it’s a benefit to the municipality.”
The administration building of the Fort McMurray First Nation 468, near Anzac, Alta., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.