The City of Revelstoke has successfully secured government funding for the $5.6 million Big Eddy water facility upgrade, and if residents approve the project through a referendum they will face increased water bills over the next decade or more.
The Big Eddy water system has deteriorated over the past years. Aging infrastructure and limited water flows are holding up some current growth and future anticipated growth.
Revelstoke council earlier this year marked the project as a top priority and at a funding announcement Friday morning, Mayor Mark McKee and Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks presented the successful funding arrangement to a group of council, staff and media.
“Funding will be used to upgrade the city’s water supply, storage and distribution systems including the installation of a real time watering system,” Wilks said. “The project involves the replacement of a number of water mains such as the Highway 23 water main crossing and the water mains in the north-east and south-east commercial and industrial areas, will also consist of a third well in the second reservoir.
“Once completed these upgrades will provide existing residents and business with safe and clean, reliable drinking water while allowing the city to keep pace with growth in the region and help ensure it has enough water to meet it’s firefighting needs.”
Municipal projects are cost-shared on a one-third basis — the maximum federal share is limited to one-third, with matching contributions from the province and municipality. The federal and BC governments will provide just over $1.8 million dollars each and the City of Revelstoke will be responsible for all the remaining costs estimated to be about $2 million.
The bulk of this remaining cost will fall onto the Big Eddy through their water charges, but it will likely be assessed on property value, then financed by the city and charged back to users over a long-term period.
Big Eddy residents will need to vote on this project before it goes ahead and it is not decided yet whether they will do so through an alternate approval process or a referendum.
“We’re hoping the referendum will happen before the year ends,” Mayor McKee said. “And there is no reason, if the Big Eddy residents are in favour and the referendum is successful, there’s no reason why this project can’t get going sometime in the spring or early summer and get this project completed as soon as possible.”
Big Eddy resident George Buhler attended the announcement. He was concerned about how much local residents will have to pay.
“You don’t have to convince me, it’s the Big Eddy residents and at the end of the day it’s going to depend on how much each person is going to have to pay and for how long,” he said.
Buhler also took a stab at the council for holding up building permits in the area and wants the permits to start going through if it looks like the upgrade is moving ahead.
During the construction, there will be disruptions to local residents though council will notify them of any major interruptions to their system.