All three levels of government announced millions in funding for two wastewater treatment plants—one in Squamish and the other on the Sunshine Coast.
On Nov. 15, at the Public Works yard in Squamish, the federal and provincial governments joined the District of Squamish and Sunshine Coast Regional District in announcing $11.1 million for upgrades to the Mamquam Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant on the Sunshine Coast.
“While we worked with our partners to build more housing, our essential infrastructure needs to be there to support,” said Member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country Patrick Weiler.
The federal government is chipping in $4 million to the Squamish wastewater plant and $400,000 to the Sunshine Coast plant, both of which come from the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program. The province is contributing $3.7 million in total, and the municipalities are contributing $2.96 million in total.
“We know that Squamish, just like other cities in the Sea to Sky, is facing unprecedented population growth. Already one of the fastest-growing municipalities in British Columbia, more than 36,000 residents are projected to be living here by 2040,” Weiler continued. “To ensure we can accommodate this, we need to make the necessary upgrades to increase operating capacity.”
Squamish Mayor Armand Hurford welcomed the funding help.
“Our wastewater treatment plant is reaching full capacity and simply couldn't survive at the rate at which our population is forecasted to grow,” said Hurford.
Member of Legislative Assembly for Courtenay-Comox Ronna-Rae Leonard spoke on behalf of Anne Kang, the B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs.
“These upgrades to the Mamquam Wastewater Treatment Plant will increase the reliability and efficiency of the facility’s equipment, which will keep the District's water systems resilient and safe,” she said. “Our government is taking action to construct the infrastructure to modern health and safety standards, assuring people in the great communities in our province can count on an essential service when it's needed.”
In a news release following the announcement, the board chair for the Sunshine Coast Regional District, Leonard Lee, also welcomed the funding.
“We thank our federal and provincial partners for this funding which will help ease the financial burden on users of the Langdale Wastewater Treatment system,” said Lee in the release.
Weiler said both the federal and provincial governments have the important role of supporting municipalities, especially as it can be hard for smaller communities to finance infrastructure.
“Partnerships are critical as we go about replacing our infrastructure,” said Hurford. “This is a great example of the three orders of government coming together to advance common goals.”
The total cost of the Squamish upgrade totals just over $20 million, which was recently increased from about $16 million due to a number of factors including ground improvement for seismic resiliency, cement shortages in B.C., and contaminated soils found on the site.