Mission needs to find an additional $15 million in order to complete a sewer line crossing underneath the Fraser River.
That’s in addition to the $7 million in federal and provincial funding that has already been secured for the project.
In March 2017, it was announced that the district would build the Fraser River Sanitary Crossing Siphon, for $8.3 million.
The project was approved under the Government of Canada’s Clean Water and Waste Water Fund. The federal government would provide almost $4.2 million, and the provincial government would provide approximately $2.7 million. The district would just over $1.4 million.
The total price was an estimated $11 million for the crossing and the land needed on both sides of the river.
Today, that cost has doubled to approximately $22 million.
Mike Younie, Mission’s chief administrative officer, said the project is continuing while the district explores other funding options.
“The status right now is that the land portion is almost complete on both sides of the river.”
Younie said the cost of the land came in much higher than originally anticipated.
“Originally, the project was $11.1 million and, when we went out for the land piece, that came out to $6.6 million.”
That’s almost all of the government funding, without even beginning the underwater pipe crossing.
“We are working through our environmental approvals and we are close to getting those. When we have certainty on those, we will go back to the market for the river crossing piece and see what the cost is to finish off the process,” Younie said.
It is estimated to be $15 million for the river piece.
“We are actively pursuing options with both levels of government to try and secure more grant funding,”
There are several factors that caused the costs to rise.
“The original estimate was done four years ago, so that’s one of the issues,” Younie said.
He said another factor is timing, noting there was a lot of government money around and competition for contractors was intense, so the price goes up. He also said that other communities are experiencing the same issues on their projects.
“The engineers can do the best job they can when they design something and try to cost it out, based on their experience, but until you go to market, you don’t know the true cost.”
A third factor is the type of work that needs to be done.
“It’s a significant project, but if you look at the scope of it, we are putting a much larger diameter pipe underneath the Fraser River.
“It’s a significant engineering marvel, if you will. The technology to install a pipe like that is – or the equipment around is – limited. There are not a lot of vendors who can provide this service.”
While there may be questions about how the district will finance the project, one thing is certain.
“The project has to happen,” Younie said.
Once all the environmental concerns have been met, construction will begin late this year.
“The work, because of the environmental sensitivity, will have to happen in the winter months so sometime in December to February.”
Until then, the district will try to secure as much outside funding as possible.
Younie said borrowing money to cover the costs could be an option.
Currently, Mission is in very good fiscal shape with a very low level of debt. Younie said they could look at internal borrowing from reserves but only if needed.
About the project:
The new sewer line across the Fraser River will twin the aging, existing line that currently brings all of Mission’s sewage to the JAMES Treatment Plant in Abbotsford for processing.
The current sewer line is constantly under pressure and about one kilometre of it is buried in the sand under the Fraser River. It was constructed in 1983 and is now 36 years old. It is believed that the pipe will reach its capacity in the next few years.
The proposed new project would allow the installation of a pipe from Mission to the JAMES waste water treatment plant, of which 950 metres will be in a dredged trench on the bottom of the Fraser River close to the existing siphon.
The increase in capacity of the sanitary trunk system would allow for further development within Mission and also reduce the environmental risk of the existing pipe.