By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber is continuing to move forward with the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project.
After previous discussions around the spillway where council approved staff to proceed with applications for funding, they were given an update on where the project was during their regular meeting on October 23.
With an estimated cost of $47,115,000 for the project, M.D. staff had been looking to acquire funding both federally and provincially.
“South Regional Drainage Project has been going on since about 2012 and the M.D. was named, and continues to be, the administrative partner on it. We had a regional meeting and they identified the Horsefly Spillway Project as number one priority and by we I mean M.D.’s, counties, towns, cities, villages,” said Jack Dunsmore, an M.D. contract worker. “In July, we sent an expression of interest out to both federal and provincial governments to see if they deemed the project suitable for applying for funding. We got notification back from the province right away that we did qualify and we did send an application under Community Resiliency for a portion of the project. We received notification from the federal portion that it was deemed a project that would be suitable for funding providing it was available. However, the program is over-subscribed so what they are requesting is we don’t apply this year but apply for it in 2019.”
From the provincial funding, under the Alberta Community Resiliency Program, they hope to secure $15,547,950 worth of funding. Federally, under the Disaster Mitigation and Adoption fund, they hope to gain $18,846,000 for the project which leaves a total of $12,721,050 to still be funded.
“How do you convince a small community to participate when they don’t see a direct benefit?” asked Reeve Merrill Harris.
Dunsmore says he hopes the communities involved with South Regional Drainage Committee can find more grants so a financial burden isn’t placed on them.
“A lot of conversations we have had throughout the meetings is, we are not just dividing up that portion amongst all of the partners. Strength in numbers, if we can find more provincial or federal funding through different programs, strength in numbers definitely helps,” he explained. “Will we get it all funded? I would say probably not.”
Another financial commitment that would come with the project, if council wanted to continue, was engineering costs.
The M.D. has been working with MPE Engineering on the project for securing funding.
MPE has said they will continue to do work required to complete the provincial application with expectations of being reimbursed if the committee is successful in securing funding. Federally though, they have stated they need a sub-consultant to do some work and would expect to be paid for the hiring which is estimated at $78,000.
“In order to finish both of these applications, we needed extra engineering. The engineering consultant firm did the provincial one and at that time they would eat that cost and they still stand by that. The federal one is a little more complicated, they gave an estimate of $78,000 and I had a conversation with them last week, and in order for them to do that, they would have to hire some consultants to do a lot of the climate change, environmental. Their comment was, they are willing to eat on their portion on that but when they have to pay a portion out of their pocket to a sub-consultant, they would expect to be paid back,” explained Dunsmore.
Council seemed responsive to continue with the project as they had already committed to exploring funding options. Dunsmore said it was costing the M.D. nothing but time so far.
“When we had the event in 2011 or 2010, it showed where the weaknesses are or shows what damage can happen when you don’t have an emergency spillway, for example. I think it is a project worth carrying on,” said Harris.
The M.D. will also send out a memo to all Regional Drainage Committee members to see if they want to continue pursuing funding for the project, ask where the remaining $12,721,050 will come from, how the rest of the non-funded costs will be divided up and any other items of business they wish to talk about. A motion was made to continue pursuing funds for the project and to set up a Regional Drainage Committee meeting, and was passed unanimously by council.