Further development of the section of CentrePort that lies within the RM of Rosser has hit a roadblock due to a delay in water service.
The RM of Rosser and City of Winnipeg entered a service-sharing agreement in 2011 that would have seen the City extend sewer and water service into CentrePort’s Brookside Industrial Park West and other land which lies within the municipality.
However, last week Winnipeg city councillors were forced to adjust the agreement after receiving an objection from the International Joint Commission, a Canada-US agency that regulates cross-border water issues. The objection is based on the historic agreement allowing Winnipeg to pump water from Shoal Lake for the use of city residents, and not for sharing with neighbouring municipalities.
"It doesn’t come as a total surprise," said RM of Rosser reeve Frances Smee, adding that she was aware that, earlier this year, two Ontario First Nations located along Shoal Lake had legally challenged Winnipeg’s right to share water.
Riva Harrison, CentrePort Canada’s executive director for marketing and communications, said development within the RM of Rosser can still proceed but the lack of water service limits the size of businesses that will locate in Brookside Industrial Park West.
"It is problematic for CentrePort as you need water services to attract the large-scale, signature developments," she said.
While the small and mid-sized businesses that have purchased land lying within the municipality’s boundaries will be able to fulfill fire safety requirements for water supply by drilling wells and adding holding tanks, larger businesses need to be connected to water service to have a sufficient volume of water available.
Harrison said CentrePort’s board members will be discussing how this water service delay could affect further business development.
Smee is confident that there are other options that will keep CentrePort growing.
The City’s executive policy committee recommended that a request be made to the International Joint Commission for an "expedited decision" and that working out a sewer service agreement with Rosser be continued.