Meet the Mayor
July 22, 2015
For many months I’ve been sharing with you the brinkmanship Chetwynd has been experiencing with its sewer system and the critical need to install a new system with up-to-date equipment capable of servicing the needs of the community for decades to come.
We have not been idly wishing for magic solutions over the months since we first discovered the raw truth of the inadequacy of the system. We have zealously presented our case, with potential solutions, to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and to the Ministry of Environment which was holding the metaphorical gun to our head.
That gun had a very big bullet. If the Ministry of Environment had pulled the trigger, as it could have, for Chetwynd’s exceeding our BOD limits, the hole in Chetwynd’s operating budget would have been ruinous – and still the fix would need to be completed.
Beyond presenting our case to the relevant Ministries, we sought an audience with MP Bob Zimmer at his office in Prince George. Mr. Zimmer proved to be quick to understand the issue and an able ally in our quest for federal and provincial funding. The Build Canada funding we were seeking is three pronged. Chetwynd would have to put up one third of the cost and Canada would supply one third contingent on British Columbia’s putting up the final third. You can readily see the complexity of the funding request and the crucial need to follow up all leads.
With both senior governments having to come together on the two thirds, much depended on the care with which the proposal was crafted. Chetwynd frequently sought advice from Ministry staffers as we worked our way through the details of the proposal.
Key to the success of the proposal and the project was the selection of the right engineering consultants to provide the technical expertise and oversight to bring the application to the shovel-ready status necessary for approval. Top loading of the site to compact the base was also required. (Top loading refers to piling as much as 10 feet of soil on the entire site to apply the pressure necessary to compact the soil beneath. All this top-loading material will have to be returned to the borrow pits prior to construction of the facility.) All this costs significant taxpayer dollars and the District of Chetwynd, to date, has spent approximately 700,000 of your dollars to ensure the success of the application for funding.
As essential as any part of the application work was the support of the citizens of Chetwynd that you demonstrated through the counter petition in which not one citizen registered a negative response. Your support had a major impact on the decision makers in Ottawa and Victoria.
With the 4.5 million dollar construction cost secured, what comes next? Well, we can all breathe a little easier and, with the breathing, our Administration can proceed with work on the final details with actual construction to begin in 2016.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor