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Wellington water pipes move forward; council seeks review of rest of costs

Council will move forward with installation of the new Wellington watermain and sewer pipes infrastructure having awarded a $16 million contract to Clearway Construction at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“Investments such as the one we’re talking about tonight are absolutely critical,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson. “Is is somewhat eye-watering when you look at the numbers? Yes, it is. But unless we make these investments we will not see the growth. And if we renege on our agreements, that word will carry far and wide that an agreement with Prince Edward County does not necessarily mean that they are going to live up to the agreement. And that is a real worry for me.”

Councillor Bill Roberts added that “to have invested in a new and modern water tower and not hook it up doesn’t make a lot of sense… and is a bit like building a neat new electric vehicle and not putting a battery or charger in it.”

Following several deputations from the public seeking a pause and third-party review – mostly expressing concern about debt if developers don’t develop – councillor John Hirsch received support for his motion to conduct a review of the rest of the costs facing Wellington to complete the water, wastewater improvements.

His motion calls for “the master servicing plan development charges background study and growth forecast project scope, and financing, be reviewed against current economic and environmental assumptions. And that staff return to council prior to the water and wastewater plant tenders being released.”

CAO Marcia Wallace confirmed staff would return with a “scoping document” likely suggesting a third party do the work, and a cost out of what that would require.

Council also amended the motion from councillor Kate MacNaughton seeking staff to ensure the environmental restoration plan for the Millennium Trail be reviewed by the Environmental Advisory Committee prior to approval.

Staff had explained the current infrastructure was built in the 1960s and 70s and is said to be at end of life, with more frequent breakages of the cast iron construction. This infrastructure is also not in compliance with the province’s requirement for ‘three year excess capacity’ and with the water and waste water environmental standards.

The project will increase water pressure and flow in Wellington (including the Wellington on the Lake community) and support the final connection to the new water tower.

The staff report explains combining the total water and waste water budgets for the entire project creates a funding blend of 91 per cent funded by development charges ($14,657,653) and nine per cent funded by user rates ($1,447,182).

Noting the project has been ongoing for years, by multiple councils, Mayor Ferguson spoke to extensive work by staff and the innovative approach of upfront development pre-payment agreements.

“So innovative in fact, that we were recognized by the province and by other organizations and other municipalities – not just in Ontario, but throughout Canada. Upfront agreements are fairly standard in large, urban centres, but not in rural ones” … We entered into agreements and I’m a big believer in living up to your commitments, and agreements.”

Staff noted it would be difficult for the developer to sign an agreement early without the pumping station being approved as the pipes would be useless without a station, but “they are willing to sign a pre-servicing agreement” with that. The two tenders are six months apart as the pipe line Environmental Assessment takes longer, so both should be ready at the same time (in September).

The sanitary pumping station is in the design stage and in expected to be tendered in spring of 2024.

Legal advice was to be sought to clarify information, but was waylaid due to some miscommunication between the staff lawyer and the one from Wellington Recreation.

Filed Under: Local News

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