Three wastewater and water treatment projects in the region are getting a share of up to $100 million in critical infrastructure funding from the province.
It's all part of a nearly $850-million support package by the Manitoba government to help Manitobans make ends meet, relieve pressures on the health-care system and assist as communities and industries recover, said Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke during the announcement in Portage la Prairie Friday afternoon.
“Our government knows just how important these projects are in rural communities to ensure safe, secure drinking water and environmentally sound wastewater management,” said Clarke.
Local projects to receive funding are the wastewater treatment plant expansion in Morden, a wastewater system expansion in the City of Winkler and R.M. of Stanley, and the water treatment plant in Letellier in partnership with the Pembina Valley Water Co-op.
“I’m thrilled that this funding will support such an important project within our communities,” said Borderland MLA Josh Guenter. “The funding being provided by our government will greatly assist the work being completed to upgrade our water treatment systems. This is an exciting day for the area.”
Brandon Burley, Mayor for the City of Morden, was at Friday's announcement, and says the province's commitment is a game changer for municipalities.
"The ability to grow and see our economic growth continue is absolutely welcome," he said. "We don't have the ability to these things on our own, and so for the province to step forward as a partner in growth is something we'd been longing for and a day that we hoped was coming."
While Burley says the wish of Council is that the federal government would also come on board as a funding partner, they remain thankful for today's announcement by the provincial government. He reiterated that the funding boost is a game changer for projects like Morden's.
"Our additional portion without a partner would have made the city unlivable," stated Burley. "Our utility rate would have gone up three, four hundred per cent. Worst-case scenario, seven hundred per cent. So, a growth-related expense would have seen our community die had we had to carry it on our own. This provides a clear, unobstructed path forward and we're ready to move on this as soon as possible."
The total cost of the jointly funded rural municipal water and wastewater projects has yet to be confirmed, subject to further discussion with municipalities, and is conditional upon municipal approval to proceed with the projects.
“The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) commends the Manitoba government for investing up to $100 million to support critical municipal water and wastewater projects,” said Kam Blight, president, AMM. “As municipalities help fuel economic growth in Manitoba, investments such as these are key to building stronger communities and fostering economic opportunities.”
The minister added that discussions continue with the federal government regarding new support programs that are being designed to add much-needed financial support for projects that support economic growth and environmental resiliency.
Written with files from Randy Lilley.