Construction on the $34.5-million Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) project officially began with a ground-breaking ceremony in Parksville Tuesday.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell joined ERWS management board members Mayor Marc Lefebvre, Sue Powell, Bob Rogers and Joe Stanhope in the “shovel in the ground” ceremony at the City of Parksville’s public works facility.
“Now we will be able to ensure the water’s getting to the people who need it, and it will be there in a safe, reliable way,” said Lefebvre, the Parksville Mayor. “I know this will bring great things for people in our community for many years.”
The ERWS, which will supply water for residences of Parksville and Nanoose Bay beginning in the fall of 2018, is a joint venture of the City of Parksville and the RDN originally formed in 2009.
The project will include a water treatment plant with a capacity of 16 million litres per day, with a membrane filtration, ultraviolet light and chlorine disinfection. New transmission lines will carry treated water to above-ground reservoirs at Top Bridge Park south of Parksville and to the city reservoir at Springwood Park.
“The transmission main to Top Bridge will be enhanced with a trail over the top,” said Lefebvre. “And we’re excited at the opportunity to look at the possibility of a future trail over the water main to Springwood, as this will further enhance the community’s walkable pedestrian network and provide a strong, east-west connection from Top Bridge to Springwood Park.”
The cost of construction includes just over $12 million in funding from the provincial and federal governments through the New Building Canada Fund: Small Communities Fund, and the Clean Water Wastewater Fund.
“This was the RDN, the City of Parksville, the province and the federal government all pulling together in the same direction to achieve an outcome,” said Bill Veenhof, RDN board chair. “We’re going to see significant water improvement for Area E (Nanoose Bay) and working together has ensured that Parksville has secured quality water for the future.”
Stilwell was credited with her advocacy efforts on behalf of the project and for helping to see the grant application through.
“When I was first elected four years ago, one of the first projects brought to my attention was this water treatment project,” Stilwell told an audience of about three dozen, including city councillors, RDN directors, city staff, project contractors and others. “And I was told by many people, ‘You will never learn so much about water and water treatment as you will in the next four years.’”
The contract for construction of the intake, pump station, water treatment plant and transmission line to Top Bridge was awarded to Knappett Projects Inc. in January of this year. The tender for the remainder of the work, including the transmission main to Springwood reservoir, was to close on Tuesday.