Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Treatment plant planned for RMs

Will solve CentrePort's water problems

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The Selinger government intends to help build a water-treatment plant to serve the RMs of Headingley and Rosser -- and finally solve the water woes plaguing CentrePort, the industrial area straddling the Winnipeg-Rosser border.

The province and rural municipalities west of Winnipeg are working on a plan to provide CentrePort with a steady supply of treated Assiniboine River water as early as 2015, said officials with the province, Rosser and CentrePort.

The development of CentrePort has been hampered by the city's inability to extend water pipes into Rosser, its northwestern neighbour. A servicing deal reached in 2010 has been held up by a complex intergovernmental disagreement.

Late last year, the city was warned not to send water to Rosser by the International Joint Commission, a Canada-U.S. body that governs cross-border water disputes. The IJC effectively backed a legal challenge posed by a pair of northwestern Ontario First Nations, which object to any city export of water from Shoal Lake, the source of Winnipeg's drinking water.

'It will be a western capital region area water solution'

-- Diane Gray, CentrePort's president and CEO

To work around the challenge, Winnipeg proposed to annex a section of Rosser. But the province rejected that idea and chose to work on a plan to build an Assiniboine River water-treatment plant instead.

"It will be a western capital region area water solution," said Diane Gray, CentrePort's president and CEO. "It will provide water to serve the growth needs of Headingley and Rosser."

The proposed plant would be operated by the Cartier Regional Water Co-Op, a public-private partnership involving the province, seven municipalities west of Winnipeg and consulting firm Genivar.

The cost of such a plant was pegged at $18 million two years ago, when Facebook was considering placing a server farm at CentrePort. It's unclear today what the final cost will be and who will foot the bill for the plant.

"That's a really good question. The province is working on a funding model now," Gray said.

The province is still negotiating with Rosser, Headingley and the water co-op, confirmed Jean-Marc Prevost, a spokesman for Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers.

Existing businesses in CentrePort draw water from wells. A more reliable source of water is needed in order for the industrial area to attract more businesses, especially larger operations.

Sewage-treatment services will be provided by the City of Winnipeg, which plans to extend a pipe into Rosser at a cost estimated at $11 million in 2012. The province has agreed to cover half the cost of the sewage-pipe extension project, which the city plans to tender early next year, acting chief administrative officer Deepak Joshi said in a statement.

Rosser and businesses in the municipality will be responsible for covering the cost of hooking up to the Winnipeg sewage system. The city and Rosser have reached an agreement in principle to cover the ongoing sewage-treatment costs, but neither Joshi nor Rosser CAO Bev Wells divulged the details of the agreement.

The City of Winnipeg is also poised to redesignate 236 hectares of CentrePort land to create a new residential area on the northern edge of St. James.

On Wednesday, council's executive policy committee voted to change the designation of land located between Saskatchewan Avenue and CentrePort Canada Way to a residential area from a manufacturing area.

The move, which faces final council approval on Dec. 11, paves the way for property developer Genstar to build and market a new supply of homes in an area of the city where there's a shortage of new housing, Gray said.

This will be the only portion of the CentrePort area that will be devoted to residential housing. CentrePort is in the midst of developing 320 hectares of industrial land north of Richardson International Airport and has plans to develop another 400 hectares of industrial land over the next 10 years, said Riva Harrison, CentrePort's marketing director.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2013 A4

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