Whistler has once again been rejected in its bid for external funding to help pay for the $3.5 million Alta Lake Road sewer line — the sixth rejection in the last 15 years.
The project, however, is not on hold for another funding window, as municipal staff, at council's direction, works on an options report, due in the coming months.
When asked about it at the recent Mature Action Community (MAC) meeting, the mayor confirmed the funding disappointment but told the group to "stay tuned" on the subject.
She said council has asked staff to go back and look at various funding scenarios and ways to move the project forward without burdening the property owners.
"It's not satisfactory to have septic tanks or holding tanks in Whistler," Wilhelm-Morden told MAC members at the April 8 meeting.
It's a message she has been sending since the 2011 election and a personal goal to see some resolution to the long-standing issue.
Fewer than 40 homes on the west side of Alta Lake, some of the oldest homes in the valley, are not connected to the municipal sewage system.
The municipality has made continual applications for external funding in an effort to reduce the cost to residents of hooking into the sewer main. The formula, much like the formula used to hook up the line to Emerald Estates, was that external funding could offset costs and the municipality and residents would pay the balance. In Emerald, homeowners and the municipality split one third of the $10 million project — roughly $6,000 per homeowner — while infrastructure grants from the provincial and federal governments paid for two-thirds.
Council learned on Feb. 1 that its gas tax application for the General Strategic Priorities Fund & Innovations Fund (GSPF&IF) was unsuccessful.
When asked for a staff update, the municipal communications department wrote:
"We still intend to advance the West Side Sewer project as instructed by Council. The next step is the Options Assessment report to Council scheduled for later in June."
Among the issues to be considered in this report is connecting Rainbow Park to the sewer system which would require a sewer lift station and a very long pipe, costs that would fall to the municipality but could impact the total project costs of a line along the road.
In the past two options have been considered: running a sewer line along Alta Lake Road, or running it along the CN Rail allowance, closer to the lake.
December's staff report to council, the last public update on the issue, states: "That future report will make a final recommendation to Council with respect to the technical configuration for this final phase of the Municipal sanitary sewer collection system, and it will also present more refined cost analysis details."
A community consultation plan will likely be included in that Options Assessment.