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Emerald sewer project comes in under budget

Property owners in Emerald Estates can expect a $6,000 bill for the Emerald sewer project, which is more than $1,000 less than originally expected.

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The $10 million project brought Emerald’s water supply and sanitary sewer collection up to speed with the rest of Whistler’s neighbourhoods and came in at more than half a million dollars under budget.

Before the project began, studies showed that septic tanks in the neighbourhood were leaking.

Now Emerald has gone from a water supply system that was potentially a public health concern to a system that delivers some of the best water in Whistler, said Brian Barnett, general manager of engineering and public works who presented his success story to council at the last meeting.

"This truly was a remarkable project," said Barnett.

He explained that this was one of the biggest infrastructure projects in British Columbia.

The project brought a new well, reservoir and water piping to Whistler’s most northern neighbourhood.

To put the magnitude of the project in some perspective, Barnett said the length of pipe that was laid in Emerald could stretch from Function Junction to Alpine if it was laid out straight from end to end.

Only 14 residents in Emerald objected to this project, said Barnett.

A survey showed that 90 per cent of residents were satisfied with municipal information and each homeowner got a drawing of their property and the chance to say where they preferred their sewer connection to go.

In addition, a residential project steering group was formed to provide their input. This group attracted widespread interest from residents.

Barnett also highlighted the contributions from the RMOW that cut down on the overall cost of the project.

"The municipality realized considerable cost savings due to removing some of the work from the contractor and giving it to municipal crews," he said.

By using municipal services like site inspection, project management and landscaping services, the project was $573,000 cheaper than anticipated.

As an example Barnett said the landscaping services cost the municipality $25 per hour but had that contract been awarded to a private company, the costs would have nearly doubled.

Originally it was estimated that the costs to each homeowner would be $7,142. With the savings, homeowners will pay just over $6,000.

Due to inflation in the past four years, this is actually 22 per cent less than anticipated.

Emerald property owners have three options to pay their portion of the project, which totals $6,081 for each property.

They can pay a lump sum before July 2, 2004, after which interest will begin to accrue.

Or they can pay an annual amount of $523, which will appear on 2004 tax notice and on every tax notice for the next 20 years.

Or they can pay the outstanding balance at some point over the next 20 years.

The bylaw for the Emerald sewer project will be presented to council for adoption at Monday’s council meeting on April 19. Once passed, the project will be complete and homeowners will asked for their share in the project.

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