The Government of Alberta is spending $49 million on more than 70 rural community infrastructure projects throughout the province. As a result, Central Alberta will see the completion of phases six and seven of the Highway 12/21 Regional Water Transmission Line.
The villages of Clive, Alix, Edberg, Ferintosh, and the Counties of Lacombe and Camrose will see a safe and stable water supply to the affected communities.
“This project will probably help these communities eliminate their dependence on old aged infrastructure and will shift to a safe and secure supply. It will also create about 45 local jobs during the construction phase,” said Prasad Panda, Minister of Infrastructure for Alberta.
The influx of infrastructure projects is part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan to stimulate and diversify the economy.
“We’re trying to minimize the impacts of the pandemic both in terms of health and economically. We’re trying to protect their lives and livelihoods but at the same time, we’re trying to stimulate the economy to spend and infrastructure. That way we can recover the economy, grow the economy, and create local jobs,” said Panda.
Since the pandemic, Panda says the province has increased the budget for infrastructure projects by 40 per cent.
Brenda Knight, Chair of the Water Commission and Lacombe County Councillor says the completion of the Regional Water Transmission Line was a long time coming. She has worked with the Water Commission for 15 years and was very excited to see the project’s completion in sight.
“Water is the lifeblood of all communities and we appreciate this so much. They can thrive, they can grow we’ll have eight rural municipalities that will be connected now. It will get them off of old infrastructure they’ll have long term safe sustainable drinking water,” explained Knight.
Knight has experienced first-hand some of the challenges of the old infrastructure.
“Ironically, I was the acting CAO in Alix when they ran out of water. I got a call from the village foreman that the reservoir was dry. A six-inch line had burst and the pumps couldn’t keep up. After a lot of studies, it became apparent that the aquifers were not going to last forever,” said Knight.
The updated water system will provide new opportunities for growth for the affected communities inviting new businesses, new developments, and new residents. Since the town of Bashaw has been connected to the waterline, they have already seen new developments.
“Since they got onto the regional water, they have had an agricultural plastics recycling firm plant move into the town. They needed water in order to wash the plastic. I am hoping that will continue to grow for all of the communities. It will give the opportunity for growth in the small areas because water is so essential to a lot of industry,” added Knight.
The total cost of the project will be $8,522,800 funded by both the provincial and federal governments and by the Regional Water Services Commission. MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr was happy to seize the opportunity to spend federal money.
“Part of this here is also taking advantage of an opportunity that Ottawa has offered to help build infrastructure in Alberta and we don’t want to leave money on the table from Ottawa. That’s why we need to get some of these projects done. It builds our infrastructure it makes our communities viable and it’s getting some of our money back from Ottawa which I think is important for a lot of people,” said Orr.
The extended waterline is expected to begin construction in February of 2021 and is supposed to be completed by 2022. With regular upgrades and maintenance, it is expected that the affected communities will have a safe supply of water for many years to come.