Sewage plant upgrades ahead of schedule 

Municipality moving to borrow an extra $20 million for construction costs

click to enlarge Clean Water The sewage outfall into the Cheakamus River will be cleaner once the waste water treatment plant upgrades are complete. Photo by Maureen Provencal.
  • Clean Water The sewage outfall into the Cheakamus River will be cleaner once the waste water treatment plant upgrades are complete. Photo by Maureen Provencal.

Six months since construction began on the sewage plant upgrades, Whistler is on course to receive $12.6 million in grant money from the provincial and federal government.

“It is looking quite positive at this time,” said John Nelson, Capital Projects manager for the municipality.

“There are some decision processes that have to be gone through by the provincial and federal government, so we can’t speak for them, but we’re optimistic it will be approved.”

In order to receive the grant, $20 million worth of work has to be completed by March.

Construction is ahead of schedule, and contractor Graham Infrastructure is predicting the project will only take 18 months, compared to the original 24-month estimation.

“When we hired the consultant, we prepared a schedule that we and the consultant thought was reasonable to build a plant of that size,” said Nelson.

“This particular contractor came back with a schedule that would only take 18 months. Part of it was because we had asked in the tendering process that the contractor be prepared to get started quickly to do a good portion of the work before March 31 st , 2008.”

Graham Infrastructure also has an incentive to get the project done earlier, since a shorter project means more financial gain.

Work on the wastewater treatment plant began in August, with the foundation laid this fall. Construction has now begun on the walls of the facility, and the bulk of work should be completed by the end of 2008.

The contractor is experiencing some problems due to the heavy snowfall.

“The schedule was critical for this project because of the infrastructure grant,” said Nelson.

The project is being funded by municipal reserves, contributions from the federal and provincial infrastructure program and financing from the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA).

The $12.6 million from the federal and provincial governments was approved in 2003, when the sewage treatment plant project was estimated to cost a total of $20 million.

Costs have now risen to $51.65 million, with the budget projected for 2007 alone amounting to $17.7 million. These increases stem from escalating construction costs as well as the scope of the project changing to include a state-of art composting facility.

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