Coun­cil ap­proves two in­fra­struc­ture projects for pan­demic fund­ing

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Matthew Lieben­berg

mlieben­berg@prairiepos­t.com

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.”

File Photo

Coun­cil­lors vote on a mo­tion dur­ing a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing held via video con­fer­ence, June 29.

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