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Second grant application for Eagle Cliff water upgrades

Municipality hoping to cover around 3/4 of the nearly $5 million project through the grant
Cove Bay Water Treatment Plant
Eagle Cliff properties are planning to connect to the Cove Bay water system.

The municipality is hoping the second time’s the charm in securing a grant to help cover costs of upcoming water supply upgrades at Eagle Cliff.

The neighbourhood is in need of an improved water supply, and steps to creating their own are too numerous to overcome. The main holdup would be rehabilitating the existing surface water reservoir, which is in need of serious repairs.

As a result consultations between Eagle Cliff and Cove Bay local advisory committees (LAC) determined the best alternative was a hookup to the Cove Bay water system. 110 Eagle Cliff properties are set to join once the connections are made.

The properties will come on board as part of a larger three-phase project involving several neighbourhoods. In addition to the Eagle Cliff water hookups, a new reservoir tank serving the neighbourhood and the high zone of Cove Bay would be installed. Further rerouting of the loop to include Scarborough connections would also take place.

The total price tag for the project is $4.859 million, a number the municipality has tried to offset with grant funding before. A 2021 application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) – under the Rural and Northern Communities stream – was rejected. Engineering director Patrick Graham says the ICIP was seeking more advanced designs and estimates, as well as an updated Water Conservation Plan within the past five years. The grant was also oversubscribed by nine times.

But Graham is more confident this time around. The grant application is still through ICIP, but under the Environmental Quality stream, a more traditional path for water projects.

“It’s our best chance of success. It’s a project that ticks the most boxes in terms of essentially providing a level of service that many properties on the island should have but don’t, in terms of access to a reliable source of clean water,” says Graham on why this project was selected for the grant application.

Graham acknowledged “there’s substantial needs in other water systems... If we were further advanced in the consultation with those communities and the planning and design for system improvements, a project there might make sense to apply for a future grant opportunity. But at this time it’s (Eagle Cliff) one of the biggest needs on the island.”

ICIP grant would cover 73 per cent of costs

The grant could be approved in full or in stages. “We’re hoping that even if we’re not able to get the full amount for all project phases, they would consider funding at least Phase 1,” says Graham.

Phase 1 consists of installing 1.3 km of new water main to connect Eagle Cliff to the Cove Bay system, and then decommissioning the existing water reservoir. The total cost of this phase is $2.283 million.

If successful, the ICIP grant would cover 73 per cent of the cost, leaving $608,876 for the homeowners to pay. This works out to about $3,928 each between the 110 Eagle Cliff properties and anticipated 45 new home connections.

Phase 2 is a new 750 cubic metre reservoir tank to replace the existing 160 cubic metre one. This would expand storage capability and help with potential firefighting efforts. The $310,172 price tag (assuming grant funding) would also be split among the previous 155 properties and six homes in the high zone of Cove Bay, for an individual cost of $981.

Finally Phase 3 consists of an Eagle Cliff water main upgrade and a connection to the Scarborough segments, both to allow for new hookups and to improve water flushing by creating a looped system. The main upgrade of $248,165 would cost each Eagle Cliff property $2,256, and the Scarborough tie-in cost of $116,415 would be $751 between the Eagle Cliff and new connection properties.

Overall, factoring in full grant funding of $3.563 million, total payments would be $7,916 for each of the 110 Eagle Cliff properties, $5,660 for each of the anticipated 45 new connections, and $981 for the Cove Bay properties.

Prices remain estimates, and will likely be more when factors such as interest are considered.

Without any grant funding Phase 1 runs $2.283 million, Phase 2 costs $1.163 million and Phase 3 is $1.413 million, equalling the $4.859 million total.

Further discussion will be needed with the LAC’s once the grant application’s results are known to work out the borrowing terms. Graham says he expects at least a five-year loan, but residents could opt for lower payments over a longer period of time. The process could also be subject to a local referendum.

“So far there’s been quite a strong agreement in support from the Eagle Cliff LAC,” says Liam Edwards, chief administrative officer. “So we can choose to go for an alternative approval process if we feel there’s great confidence in the project, or move to a referendum if we felt that was a better approach. We would probably promote longer-term borrowing. The opportunity for one-time payment could be there for individuals if they were to choose to do that.”

Edwards adds ICIP grant decisions are slow going, and this one likely won’t be made until fall or winter at the earliest.

Another key component to the grant is municipal commitment to an updated Water Conservation Plan. Council recommended five main steps to ensure this, including reviewing the progressive rate structure implemented by the Tunstall Bay water system in 2017, and using the results to develop similar rate structures in other LAC’s.

Other measures include individual property readings compared to other users, updating the Grafton Lake water model, and reviewing the Subdivision and Development Servicing Bylaw to determine future water use based on development.

Edwards says Bowen Island is already doing well in many of these categories, with average consumption below the regional and provincial averages. But he says an endorsement of further concrete steps will reinforce Bowen’s efforts to the ICIP.

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