Council approves two infrastructure projects for pandemic funding
The City of Swift Current has identified two projects that will receive over $2.3 million in grant funding from the Saskatchewan government’s initiative to stimulate economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councillors approved the projects and authorized the mayor to sign the funding agreement during a regular council meeting on June 29, which took place via video conference.
The provincial government announced the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program (MEEP) in early May with a total of $150 million for shovel ready infrastructure project in Saskatchewan municipalities.
The province is using 2016 population census data to distribute the funding on a per capita basis to municipalities. The City of Swift Current is eligible to receive $2,386,467 and the total amount must be spent by March 31, 2022.
City administration did an analysis of upcoming capital investment projects in the five-year capital plan to identify suitable projects for the MEEP funding, based on project readiness, scope and timing of work, as well as risk and impact to residents and users.
The two selected projects are the Friesen Street storm rehabilitation project, which fits into the MEEP wastewater and storm water category, and the Fairview Arena floor and header replacement project, which qualifies for funding under the MEEP recreation, culture, tourism and sport category.
City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken said during an online media briefing after the meeting the MEEP funding for the Friesen Street storm rehabilitation project will make it possible to carry out priority work.
“It’s like a lot of the larger projects in our plan that are grant dependent that we hope that other levels of government will step up and assist us in completing these,” he noted. “So for us it will remove some pretty big liability from the City, as a part of the storm line goes through private property and through people’s yards in proximity to their houses. So it will be great to get it removed from there and into the streets.”
The current storm sewer main along Friesen Street from 3rd Avenue SE to Riverside Park was installed 65 years ago. It has not only exceeded its estimated service life, but it is undersized and cannot adequately serve the needs of properties in the area. Any failure to this current system might have an impact on eight blocks of homes.
“We’re doing regular inspections and on some of those inspections we’ve determined that it’s failing even more,” he said. “It was really time to do it. So that opportunity brought it to the top of the priority list.”
Some work was carried out several years ago on this storm sewer main, but continuation of the rehabilitation work was deferred several times due to the cost of the project.
“It goes back to at least 2013 when we did the first phase of that project, which was through the parking lot at Riverside Park and up to 6th Avenue SE, and then the project stalled until this point,” he said. “So it’s been a number of years. It was brought forth and it was in the project plan, but as you can imagine, we have many competing priorities. So it was deferred previously until this time.”
The Friesen Street storm rehabilitation funding will receive the bulk of the MEEP funding allocated to the City of Swift Current. The total cost of this project will be about $2.3 million, of which $2,191,000 will be used from the MEEP allocation.
The project will include the rerouting and upsizing of 650 metres of existing storm main with PVC piping, the installation of catch basins in intersections, lanes and midblock low points, as well as paving and sidewalk repairs in the work areas.
According to Minken the complexity of this project will mean it will take some time to complete the work, but it will be done within the time limits of the MEEP funding.
“Even though we’ve got quite a bit of the detailed engineering completed, we need to develop a tender package and get it out into the market and get a bid closed,” he said. “So we’ll be somewhat at the mercy of the contractors who can perform that work as to when we’ll actually be able to start and complete that work. The MEEP funding is available until into 2022, so some of that work likely or may happen in 2021. We just have no idea at this point just yet as we make our way through the process.”
City General Manager of Community Services Jim Jones indicated the progress with the smaller Fairview Arena project will be much faster.
“We’ve been in the process of doing an RFP already, because it’s going to take between four and six months to complete the project,” he said. “So we’re hoping for four if we can get out of the gates fast.”
The approval of the motions at the council meeting meant the requests for proposals can be processed and the goal will be to get the work done in the next few months.
“We’re hoping that we would be in the Fairview Arena for skating and arena operation effective by the latest Dec. 1, and hopefully before that,” he said.
The Fairview Arena was constructed 43 years ago and the ice surface on the east side still uses the original header system, brine lines, insulation, and floor construction. A recent inspection indicated the header might fail due to corrosion. The boards and glass at this ice surface are also original and not in a good condition.
This project will include installation of a new header system, the replacement of the boards and glass, as well as the replacement of the sand floor with a concrete surface. The total cost of all this work will be $950,000. The City will use $195,000 from the MEEP funding for the Fairview Arena upgrade.
The total cost of the two projects will exceed the amount received from the MEEP grant with over $800,000. City General Manager of Corporate Services Kari Cobler said the City will use two funding sources for the additional money.
“We will rely on the utility surpluses, particularly from the Light and Power utility, to fund the portion of the expenditures that aren’t covered through the MEEP program and we’ll also be relying on some debt to make up the difference, particularly on the Fairview Arena project,” she explained. “So those are the two funding sources other than the MEEP that we’ll use to pay for the projects in their entirety.”
Councillors vote on a motion during a regular council meeting held via video conference, June 29.