Council Approves $1M Sewer Backwater Prevention Program, Providing Subsidies Up To $3K For New Valves

The RMWB is officially setting up a one million dollar sanitary sewer backwater prevention program.

Wood Buffalo council met on Tuesday where they approved allocating the funds to ensure those who don’t have a backwater valve can get one at limited costs.

During April’s flood, river water entered the sanitary sewer system through manholes which resulted in many properties being damaged as they didn’t have the valve to prevent their basements from flooding.

Through the program, those in the six flood-prone areas – downtown, Longboat Landing, Waterways, Draper, Ptarmigan Court, and Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park – can receive a subsidy of up to $3,000.

This is an increase of the originally proposed $1,500 due to overall costs to install the valve expected to be as high as $5,500.

“This is obviously something that’s needed for this community, it should have been in place long ago,” said Mayor Don Scott.

Not everyone was in favour of the increase.

Councillors Verna Murphy and Sheila Lalonde expressed concerns about contractors raising costs due to property owners being guaranteed $3,000 from the RMWB.

“The more we give back… it doesn’t really go to the resident, it goes to somebody who might be upping the cost on the front end instead of doing it the right, proper way,” noted Murphy.

This program is familiar to the one run by the city of Edmonton. Adminstration noted they developed the local model from multiple community plans, taking heavily from the province’s capital.

“A place that has had the number of floods that we’ve had should have pioneered this,” added Scott.

It officially comes into effect on March 1, 2021. Property owners will need to show a receipt of the exact dollar amount to receive the subsidy.

After property owners in the six flood-prone areas are supported, the RMWB plans to offer residents in other neighbourhoods the chance to receive up to $1,500 to help install a backwater valve.

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