Langley City will be one of the first B.C. municipalities to benefit from a federal government promise to spend $120 billion over the next 10 years, fixing up the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
A just-announced federal and provincial agreement on a Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF) will, among other things, fund a $3.6 million overhaul of the water and sewer lines that run for one kilometre beneath 56 Avenue, from Glover Road to the Langley Bypass.
The new $450 million program to rehabilitate and improve community water and wastewater systems was unveiled at the end of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Victoria on Friday, Sept. 30.
It was described as the largest local government infrastructure program in over 15 years in B.C.
It will see Ottawa pay half the cost of eligible projects, while B.C. will pay a third and the rest will come from the municipalities.
It is a lot less than the City would expect to pay under previous funding formulas that usually called for a three-way split between the different levels of government.
Rick Bomhof, the City Director of Engineering, Parks and Environment, said it amounts to a savings of $3 million for the City, which will help pay for new curbs and gutters, new LED street lights, a bike lane and fresh pavement on 56 Avenue after the water and sewer work is done.
“We’ll be able to achieve a lot more work with the same amount of money,” Bomhof said.
“This all helps with the infrastructure deficit that every municipality has.”
The City project was among the first 35 to win approval from the fund in B.C. because the planning work was already completed earlier this year.
Other B.C. communities will have until Nov. 23 to submit their project proposals.
City mayor Ted Schaffer celebrated the news at Monday night’s council meeting.
“We’re a city of only 26,000,” he said.
“We’re hitting way above our weight class.”
Coun. Paul Albrecht praised Bomhof for producing a “shovel-ready” project that could be quickly approved.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom called the deal “amazing.”
Bomhof expects the City will open the 56 Avenue project to bids before the end of this year, with construction starting in early 2017, and completion by the summer.
The federal-provincial agreement was signed at the UBCM by Amarjeet Sohi, the federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Peter Fassbender, the provincial minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Todd Stone, B.C. minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
A federal statement called it “a major milestone” in the roll-out of the $120 billion “Investing in Canada” plan, as it was the final deal to be signed with provinces and territories.
“We are very pleased to have reached this agreement for clean water and wastewater so that British Columbia communities can address their specific infrastructure priorities, while helping grow the middle class with good, well-paying jobs,” Sohi said.
“The Clean Water and Wastewater Fund will enable local governments to meet immediate priorities in critical infrastructure while supporting a cleaner and healthier environment for communities across B.C.” Fassbender said.
“This funding is another example of the importance of working closely with local governments to invest in vital local services that make a difference to their communities,” Stone said.
Note: a previous version of this story reported that there was a savings of $600,000 to the city, based on previous cost-sharing agreements with the federal and provincial governments. While this is technically true, in fact the overall benefit in savings to the city is the full value of the grant, which is more than $3 million, the amount contributed by the senior levels of governments.