Mayor Ken Melamed is not confident that Whistler will get an
infrastructure grant to hook Alta Lake Road residents to the municipal sewer
His comments come on the heels of a meeting with Ida Chong, Minister
of Community Services, in Whistler on Sept. 23.
Chong told elected officials that the $102 million Municipal
Rural Infrastructure Fund is oversubscribed. That fund is cost shared evenly by
the federal and provincial governments.
“She basically said unless there’s a proven environmental or
health risk, there’s fairly little chance of getting it,” said the mayor after
Monday’s council meeting.
“The news, while it wasn’t a direct ‘no’, I took it as being
not particularly encouraging. But we’re going to continue to pursue it actively
because it is a commitment we’ve made to the residents.”
Alta Lake Road resident Florence Petersen said she’s hopes the
municipality will keep on trying to get money for the sewer, which has been
promised to them for years.
“They’ve got to keep trying,” she said.
Despite allegations the septic systems are leaking into Alta
Lake and changing the composition of that lake, water tests to date have not
revealed any health or environmental risks, said the mayor. The municipality will
now test the septic systems on Alta Lake Road for leakage.
Melamed said the municipality will still apply for the
infrastructure program and if they are not successful this year they will
continue to apply in subsequent years. The project, which would bring a sewer
line to the last 40 homes not on the municipal system, will cost more than $3.2
The September meeting with Chong means Whistler representatives
will not be meeting the minister at the Union of British Columbia
Municipalities’ annual meeting this month.
Tight timeline for upgrade
It will be challenging to meet the timelines set out for the
multi-million dollar sewage plant upgrades, according to a municipal engineer.
James Hallisey outlined to council the tight timelines
associated with the $34.6 million project.
By the end of 2007, according to Whistler’s operating
certificate with the province, the plant must be on biological phosphorous
removal rather than the current chemical phosphorous removal.
“It going to be a challenge,” said Hallisey.
Three months later, by March 31 2008, Whistler must have the
project completed as per the agreement for the $12.6 million from a
Canada/British Columbia infrastructure grant.
At Monday’s meeting council approved an almost $1.9 million
contract for the engineering services to Vancouver-based Stantec Consulting.
Theirs was the lowest bid of four companies vying for the contract.
Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden asked if the upgrades could be
done to meet the two pressing deadlines with the balance of the work completed
after the Olympics.
Hallisey said in conversations with Stantec that Whistler may
not save any money by waiting until after 2010. The timeline, however, has not
yet been set.
The multi-million dollar project will improve the quality of the
effluent discharge, eliminate odours at the property lines and ensure that
there is enough capacity for the population.
All significant parts of the upgrade must be complete by
November 2008 to allow 14 months of plant operation before the 2010 Olympics.
Ask council at town hall
Whistler council is all ears.
A town hall meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14 at
the Telus Conference Centre.
Mayor Ken Melamed said the meeting will be a casual, informal
sharing session with a rotating roundtable discussion. There will be lots of
opportunities to ask questions or raise concerns. For those members of the
public who would rather submit written questions, those can be directed to
until Thursday, Oct. 12.
Melamed said council will take the ideas and suggestions
generated at the meeting to the Whistler 2020 task forces as well as the budget
A social will follow the town hall meeting complete with a cash
The town hall meeting will run in the Harmony Room from 1 to 3:30 p.m.