On pay day, Friday, August 19, three levels of government, community members and consultants gathered at the unassuming little building on Kaybob Drive to cut the ribbon and release the storm destined for the sewage treatment plant.
A Wastewater Lift Station Project is as unglamorous as it gets.
The pristine, 3.2 million dollar facility lacks nothing by way of modern lift station appointments: instrumentation, remote monitoring, a Kelly-green back-up generator, clean, safe access and matching – submerged pump – hatches … no chandelier.
Mirek Grzeszczuk, Municipal Engineer with DCL Siemens, led the project since its inception almost two years ago. “This facility will increase Fox Creek’s industrial capacity, accommodate future development, both commercial and residential.” And, just as importantly, he stated, it eases the load on the old, but still operational, lift station. By redirecting much of the downtown sewage to the new station, we’ve increased its life expectancy.
“Shit happens,” said MLA for Grande Prairie-Smoky, Mel Knight. It’s a fact of life. This project affirms the province’s priorities. It is “health conscious, safe and environmentally sensitive as well.”
The project came in on time and under budget, that’s a testament to “the kind of leadership here.” MP Rob Merrifield
Aging systems are vulnerable. Pumps break down, level sensing devices fail, pipes and containments crack, standards change and controls become obsolete. Maintenance challenges, consumer quality expectations, and legislated standards change over time.
Public works wrench wranglers, Owen Farnel and Dennis Bellwood aren’t sorry to pull the plug on their, almost 30 year, relationship with the old increasingly demanding system. Mayor Leora MacKinnon acknowledged their contribution, expertise and commitment to seeing this project through from beginning to end.
The project came in on time and under budget, that’s a testament to “the kind of leadership here,” said MP Rob Merrifield, acknowledging the tough decisions Mayor MacKinnon and council had to make when there are so many “more politically popular” ways to spend money.
Infrastructure challenges aren’t exclusive to Fox Creek. Municipal governments sounded the alarm years ago. Most had neither the funds nor the experience to address the demands and they lobbied for help.
The lift station is health conscious, safe and environmentally sensitive as well. MLA Mel Knight
Although usually more involved in data collection, setting standards and regulations, both the federal and provincial governments heeded the call.
The program sought to meet infrastructure challenges, and in a period of recession, stimulate the economy. Joining forces with provincial and municipal governments injected the cash needed to really make a difference, explained MP Rob Merrifield.
“Targeted. Timely, and temporary,” he said, “This is one of the most effective economic stimulus programs in federal government history.” More than 4100 projects for safer roads, improved public transit, modernized public facilities and cleaner drinking water benefited.
The partnerships were rewarding, effective and successful. Even opposition parties find little fault with the program.
The feds claim the program generated 600,000 jobs, it compensated for the 400,000 lost during the recession, and netted an increase of 200,000. Critics do challenge those numbers.
It’s true, the Fox Creek project didn’t employ many locals, nor will maintaining the nearly state-of-the-art self-sufficient facility.
Local contractors were invited to tender, “but none responded,” said Owen. Projects like this require “expertise not often found in a small community,” said Mirek.
The contractors, however, were all Albertan and the long term health, environmental and capacity benefits will ensure Fox Creek can handle whatever bio-waste the fan flings.
“It’s not sexy,” said Merrifield, “but it is integral to building a sustainable future.”Print This Post