You’ll recall how I interviewed Mayor Michael Fougere three weeks ago to talk about possible alternate sources of funding for the
waste water sewage plant project in the event that we can’t access P3 Canada Fund dollars because of a Yes side win.
Alternate sources like the new, soon-to-be replenished Building Canada Fund.
Fougere said the Building Canada wouldn’t work (read the article for a dissenting opinion on that) because the BCF that restarts after 2014 is a new fund and would require all projects be vetted for P3 viability.¹
Well, that got me wondering, why didn’t we access the old Building Canada Fund? I mean, here we are racing to get our
waste water sewage treatment plant built in time so our waste water sewage will comply with new federal water quality regulations — and we’re going to be cutting things seriously close. But it’s not like these water regulations are some kind of big surprise.
City council has been talking about upgrading our
waste water sewage treatment plant for a very long time. But we haven’t been actually getting it upgraded until just now.
I asked Mayor Fougere about why we’ve been so sluggish…
Prairie Dog: This sewage treatment plant project has been looming in the background at council for a long time. Almost as long as I’ve been covering city hall. Why didn’t we get funding secured for it three, four, five years ago when the Building Canada Fund was there? Why are we only getting this done now?
Mayor Fougere: I’ll have to go back and look at some of the reports and give me a chance to look at those to be clear on this one before I answer in detail. But it’s also we’re building up our own reserves because part of the funding is we were paying through the reserves as well and it was the timing to go forward. Building Canada wasn’t available at that time, I don’t think it was when you’re talking about it, unless we’re going back even further, that Building Canada wasn’t necessarily there at all. So it was when we’re ready to do it, when we felt we needed to do it and when we had the capacity to do the project.
PD: There were even other funds available at one time though. The Canada Saskatchewan Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund,² for instance, that maybe we could have accessed seeing as we’ll be entering into agreements with rural municipalities [to use our waste water facility]. It’s almost as if we’re coming at this late in the game and now things are rushed.
MF: I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t think we’re rushed on this at all. We needed to get the work done so you can rewrite history I suppose and say we should do something different but we weren’t ready to do the project at the time. We were still designing the project, looking at the timing of that relative to other infrastructure needs, so I wouldn’t want to rewrite and say we should’ve done something differently because we weren’t ready to go then.
¹ And that’s true. While the feds have yet to lay out exactly what hoops municipalities will have to jump through to access the new Building Canada Fund, they claim they will be checking each project for P3 viability. Of course, if a municipality were to have a bylaw on the books saying they can’t use a P3 for a certain project — perhaps because of an inconvenient referendum result — that would make the P3 not so viable and the project would probably then move up to the next step in the approval process. Of course, that doesn’t mean Building Canada Fund dollars are a slam dunk in the event of a Yes side win. But it does mean that maybe, just maybe, the city will have a range of options it is perhaps failing to … erm… accentuate in its pre-referendum rhetoric.
² Whoops. When I first posted this blog entry, I left the word “Rural” out of the name of this fund. Canada Saskatchewan Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund or MRIF is the correct name.