The RM of West St. Paul is moving ahead with plans to borrow $4.5-million needed to build some four kilometres of pipe that will bring sewage services to the municipality.
On Thurs., May 9, councillors are expected to approve a borrowing bylaw for the $16 million project to move quickly to tender this fall, with work beginning in early 2014.
"We’re about to turn the page on moving our community into the future," Mayor Bruce Henley told a packed Sunova Centre May 1, where he unveiled plans for the project alongside the RM’s 2013 financial plan, and where the bylaw had its first reading.
It’s an historic moment for the RM, and the first time the City of Winnipeg will extend sewer services beyond its borders. Winnipeg councillors voted to sell sewage and water services to RMs like West St. Paul in 2011.
Henley said RM residents won’t start paying for the sewer line, which will take only liquid wastewater, on their taxes until 2015-16, if at all.
The RM is looking to sell a prime parcel of real estate at Main Street at the Perimeter Henley believes can net at least $1.5 million. The RM is also introducing a new $2,500 sewer levy for new lots, and is preparing to use gas tax revenue and further government infrastructure grants to pay down the borrowing costs, Henley said.
"Our goal is to have that down to zero or as close to zero as possible when the time comes to start paying the debt," said Henley, noting the RM is in talks to develop 1,000 new lots with developers.
The pipe is expected to serve about 6,200 dwellings in the RM and reach full capacity by 2055, Henley said. There are about 1,700 homes in West St. Paul now.
However, some owners say the cost of connecting to the system and bringing sewer pipes down individual streets will be too difficult to swallow.
Harjit Holthi has been rebuilding his Rossmore Avenue home and recently installed a new 25-gallon holding tank for his sewage.
"I just spent $15,000 and all of a sudden I have to pay another $15,000?" said Holthi, who, along with his wife, is retired and living off his pension.
"Where am I going to get $15,000?"
Down the road, Jay Vermeylen doesn’t believe the cost is too steep if it will help keep water away from his house.
Vermeylen, who has lived on Rossmore for 20 years, has a combination of a holding tank and septic field and uses about two to three sump pumps to help keep water away from his house.
"I know it ain’t cheap," he said.
"It’s not a bad idea, just being able to get the water away from house and into a proper sewer system."
The project has received $6 million from the province and $4 million from the federal Building Canada Fund.
Overall, homeowners will see their property tax bills drop by 10% as officials lowered its property tax mill rate. Education taxes account for 63% of a homeowner’s property tax bill, with 37% going to municipal services, Henley said.
To view the financial plans and the wastewater proposal, visit http://www.weststpaul.com.