Looped in

Fort McMurray Today - - FORT MCMURRAY - CULLEN BIRD To­day Staff cbird@postmedia.com

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.”

CULLEN BIRD/FORT MCMUR­RAY TO­DAY/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

CULLEN BIRD/FORT MCMUR­RAY TO­DAY

The ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing of the Fort McMur­ray First Na­tion 468, near An­zac, Alta., on Satur­day, Aug. 19, 2017.

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