Thanks to provincial and federal funding, residents of the East Kootenay region will benefit from upgrades to water and watershed infrastructure.
Conservative Member of Parliament David Wilks was at Rotary Park in Fernie on July 24 to announce two major infrastructure projects for both West Fernie and Fernie.
The first project is the West Fernie Water System Project, with an estimated price tag of close to $10.5 million; $3.5 million of which is coming from the federal government.
The province will match the federal contributions and the Regional District of East Kootenay will be responsible for the remaining costs.
West Fernie residents and businesses will be getting upgraded water and wastewater management systems, Wilks said.
“The work will include the rehabilitation of approximately 3.2 kilometres of potable water mains, including all valves, fittings, service connections, fire hydrants and water meters.”
At this time, approximately 3.2 km of sanitary sewer and 0.3 km of the storm water mains will be installed at the same time, which will include any related connections, catch basins and manholes, lift stations and pumps, ditching work and tie ins, he said.
“When completed, the modernized, higher capacity water mains and the new wastewater management system will provide reliable services to the area for years to come.”
Wilks said the second project that will benefit from government funding is the James White Well Development Project in Fernie, which will cost nearly $3.5 million, with federal contributions totalling $826,258.
For the Fernie-based project, the province will match the federal contribution and the city will be responsible for the remaining project costs.
This project will include the construction of a new source water well, including a pump house and the installation of approximately 433 metres of water line, he said, adding where the line crosses the Elk River, it will be installed seven metres below the deepest part of the channel.
The community historically faced challenges dealing with water turbidity from its primary river intake during the thaw each spring, he said.
“When completed, the new well will provide the city with a secondary drinking water supply source, assuring a continued supply of clean, potable water throughout the year.”
The projects announced are among the 55 recently approved within the province that will collectively receive more than $128 million in joint federal-provincial funding under the Small Communities Fund.
Through this fund, the governments of British Columbia and Canada are working together to provide funding for infrastructure projects that deliver on local needs in communities across the province that have fewer than 100,000 residents.
Bill Bennett, MLA of Kootenay East and Minister of Energy and Mines said he was pleased with the announcement and said the West Fernie water and sewer servicing has been a priority of his for over a decade.
“Along with Area A Director Mike Sosnowski, Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano and MP David Wilks, we have managed to finally get this project done,” he said.
Mayor Giuliano, on behalf of herself and the city council, was also thankful for the funding that will “positively affect Fernie and West Fernie residentsl.”
This funding will allow Fernie to complete other water system rehabilitation projects with city reserves, rather than expending funds on this particular project, she said.
“The contribution will help the city to switch the supply during freshet (spring thaw) and allow continued provision of safe and reliable drinking water in the community.”
To learn more about the Small Communities Fund, visit www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/sc-cp-eng.html.