Update on Water Repair Delays

Type(s)
News Release

Filling starting this week on 7th Ave East, City Continuing to Await Federal Response on Funding

PRINCE RUPERT, OCTOBER 12th, 2023 – Crews have started to backfill the holes from water main breaks on 7th Avenue East this week and will be moving into other areas (Frederick, Kootenay) over the following days so roadways can be reopened. This is an interim measure to improve local traffic access while we await word on funding to complete the full scope of repairs in these areas. It should be noted that this backfilling will not be repaved in the near term, as the full section of pipe along that corridor must be replaced and the holes will be re-excavated for that work.

“We understand that this is absolutely an inconvenience to the community, and especially to those neighbourhoods that have been dug up,” said Mayor Pond. “Prince Rupert is heading into a critical period of renewal, and to get to where we need to be, there will be unavoidable disruptions. We commit to doing our best to minimize them, and appreciate the community’s understanding while we do this essential work to prevent the potential collapse of our water system.”

The City is currently pursuing an unprecedented infrastructure renewal effort to replace 26 km of water and sewer pipes – a project still awaiting news on a Federal grant for $82 Million. There will also be mobilization time to account for once the funding is announced.  Once the project starts in earnest, it is expected to take a minimum of 3 years to complete all priority replacements. 

This work  will be extensive, and will not only replace water and sewer lines, but also the roadways above. A major contributor to the poor condition of our roads is leaking pipes beneath them, which erodes subsurface and paving above. Targeting these most critical areas will leave us with fully new roadways in significant portions of the community, and will allow us to redirect capital roads spending to replacements in other areas, rather than paving over emergency repairs which has been the priority historically.

Unfortunately, in the meantime, if any replacements are conducted in failing areas, we would lose all eligibility for Federal funding. This would transfer the full burden of these major costs to taxpayers. Although staff and Council have been expending significant effort to get additional revenues through a Resource Benefits Agreement, resolution to port tax caps and payments in lieu of taxes, and development of Watson Island, potential revenues from these sources have not been resolved.

The City has received $65 Million from the Province, has obtained approval for borrowing of $45 Million, with the Federal request of $82 Million being the last step in achieving as funding as possible towards replacing municipal water and sewer mains that are at highest risk and likelihood of failure. Thanks to the recent Provincial announcement regarding their roundabout project at 2nd Avenue and McBride Street, which includes replacement of underground infrastructure in that area, the City is also able to leverage those funds towards maximizing a potential Federal contribution. If the City is successful in getting full funding, this will be a major undertaking that will get us ahead of the near-constant failures our water system currently experiences.

This will be necessary not only to secure the distribution system, but also in order for our staff to appropriately address other community priorities. Currently, water service and main breaks in the community, is also exhausting staff capacity and budget, and so there may be delays to service on non-safety related requests.

“The majority of operations staff attention is currently occupied by the current circumstance, but as projects come online and areas of underground infrastructure are secured, the City very much looks forward to providing a level of service our community deserves,” said Mayor Herb Pond.

For more information on the water system, it’s challenges, and planned upgrades, see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA3q7cke5TM

For additional information on general infrastructure upgrades and projects in the community, head to: https://engage.princerupert.ca/community-infrastructure-replacement

MEDIA CONTACT:

Veronika Stewart, Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development

Office: (250) 627 0976

Cell: (778) 884 6285

Email: veronika.stewart@princerupert.ca