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City of Grand Forks set to start infrastructure plans

The City of Grand Forks has passed this year's budget and can move forward with emergency water flow and road and sewer repair plans.

The federal government has recently allocated $150 million towards infrastructure for cities around Canada, which will benefit the City of Grand Forks as it is moving forward to update its aging infrastructure.

With the passing of this year’s budget and two infrastructure-related bylaws (Bylaws 1922 and 1923), projects can now move forward.

Mayor Brian Taylor stated that with the passing of the bylaws and the budget, city council will go ahead with the west-end water project, which was budgeted around $1.3 million.

“Some new information is coming in and we may be able to bring that in to less cost,” Taylor said. “We are committed on going ahead with that since that has everything to do with west-end development.”

The project will bring water pressure and volumes to where it is considered acceptable to insurance companies in the west end.

With the emergency water pressure added, it will also allow insurance costs for owners to stay low for businesses and homeowners.

“We have to have the water pressure and volume before we can have new development out there,” explained Taylor.

The city already has several projects considered ready to go, with some engineering work still to be done.

“We’re already out there shopping for participation and support. The federal government has just allocated $150 million to infrastructure, which isn’t a lot, for the whole of Canada,” sad Taylor. “I’ll be working hard personally to try and connect Grand Forks with some of that money.”

Taylor hopes to reach out to the province once he has secured funds from the federal government.

“We want to be able to play that partnership game with the federal government and the province,” he said.

The process to beginning updating and renovating portions of the city could take more than a year.

“We can only hope that things will move ahead quickly, but we can’t make any guarantees at all that they’re going to do that,” Taylor stated.

In terms of roads, Taylor noted that the part of 22nd Street leading to the hospital and sections of 68th Street are being considered for repair.

“We’ve red-flagged a number of roads in our city that really are priority roads, but we are trying to pick the ones where we can get the most for our money,” he said.

“We’re looking at multi-projects that have sewer, water and everything underground, while we fix the roads as well. You don’t have to go far in this city because we have a 90 per cent road deficit at this point. Most of our roads are in really bad shape.”

Taylor is glad that many residents agreed with the referendum, which has enabled the city to move forward.

“We’re in a position where we can move quickly so we can address this problem,” he concluded.

On July 18, 2011, council gave three readings to Bylaw No. 1922 “City of Grand Forks Emergency Water Supply For Fire Protection Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 1922, 2011”, as well as Bylaw No. 1923, “City of Grand Forks Capital Renewal Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 1923, 2011”.

The city received an inspector’s Certificate on September 6, 2011, allowing the bylaw to be presented to the electors for assent by referendum, at the local government election on November 19, 2011.

Bylaw 1922 asked residents if the City of Grand Forks could borrow funds up to $1,300,000 towards the use of emergency water supply for fire protection.

The estimated cost for planning, study, design and construction of fire flow requirements (additional well, stand-by pumps and pipes) is the sum of $1,300,000.

The second bylaw, Bylaw 1923, asked residents to authorize the borrowing of $4,200,000 to help replace road, water and sewer works in the City of Grand Forks, with a preference given to multi-utility projects where combining road, water and sewer needs into the same projects for cost efficiency.

The total debt created by this bylaw will not exceed $4.2 million.

Both bylaws have a term of debt of 25 years.

As per the Chief Election Officer Diane Heinrich’s report on the referendum for Bylaw 1922, 791 residents voted “yes” and 377 “no”, hence the referendum passed.

For Bylaw 1923, 855 residents voted “yes” and 320 voted “no”, thereby the referendum also passed.