Alix village council is in a tough spot with their municipal lagoon after engineer’s recommended changing the project, leaving them with only about a third of the actual repair costs in the bank.
A decision to lobby other levels of government for grant money was made at the July 7 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White asked council to give her permission to seek more provincial or federal money to rehab the village’s lagoon after major engineering firm, MPE Engineering, changed their recommendation.
“In 2017 an application was made to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for $3.2 million to rehabilitate the Alix lagoon,” stated White in her report to council.
“The grant was approved in late 2020 for $619,000. This funding was originally dedicated to re-lining cell #6.
“At the end of last year MPE Engineering advised they no longer supported doing work to cell #6 first and felt cell #5 needed to be fixed before cell #6.
The project was switched over to cell #5 at their recommendation, however now there is a problem with how to drain down cell #5, de-sludge and put in the synthetic liner without being able to use cell #6 to hold the effluent.”
White stated later in the meeting MPE changed their recommendation to prevent water table issues.
White stated such a project would be difficult without support from other levels of government.
“This project is too large for the village to do without grant funds,” she stated. “It is extremely unfortunate that the original grant request was cut to such a small amount.”
White explained the project hasn’t begun yet because of said changes.
“We’ve been held up,” she said. The CAO explained that cell #6 likely cannot be used to store effluent because it’s not structurally sound, so there’s nowhere to put the sewage while cell #5 is under repair.
Coun. Ed Cole asked if Lacombe County could kick in funds. White answered the lagoon is exclusively used by Alix.
Coun. Vicki Soltermann asked what the village’s “Plan B” would be if cell #5 fails. White answered staff are working on that right now but finding funding for the project is the primary concern.
It was stated during discussion the lifespan of any new synthetic liner is about 75 years.
Soltermann asked if the village could simply save money for five years and pay the $3.2 million bill itself.
Mayor Rob Fehr stated the village isn’t at that point yet, as there may be grant options through the provincial and federal governments.
Fehr stated he was frustrated by the engineer’s changing their recommendation and wondered if the village should look at other companies in the future. “Is it time we start looking at engineering options?,” asked the mayor.
Coun. Tim Besuijen stated it’s not always the company involved, but sometimes the individuals working on the project.
Councillors eventually passed a resolution that the village lobby other levels of government for assistance with sourcing grant funds to be used for the completion of repairs to the Alix lagoon.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter