By Cole Parkinson
With the provincial government looking for municipal shovel ready projects to continue to get the economy rolling, the Municipal District of Taber is moving forward on several 2021 construction works.
In late July, the UCP government announced a $500 million Municipal Stimulus Program which lead to municipalities submitting on shovel-ready infrastructure projects.
During council’s regular meeting held on Sept. 8, they reviewed the several projects that are slated to get started in 2021.
Projects in the M.D.’s tender ready list for 2021 include grading/base/pave at RR-17-4 from Barnwell to TR 10-0, cold storage building at the M.D. campus, building repurposing at the old public works shop, sanitary/sewer expansion in Grassy Lake, potable waterline expansion in Grassy Lake, Hays Fire Hall renovations, grading/soil cement/chip seal RR 17-3 from Highway 526 to TR 15-0, grading/soil cement/chip seal RR 14-5 from TR 9-4 to Highway 3, grading/soil cement/chip seal RR 15-2 from Highway 3 to TR 10-4, residential/commercial development in Grassy Lake and rural water servicing in east Barnwell and north of Taber.
“Council provided some additional budget money for M.D. staff to make preparations for those projects to bring them close to tender ready so we could move swiftly when the money was made available,” explained CAO Arlos Crofts. “We are at that point. The projects being proposed here in this RFD were previously approved by council and they can and should be tender ready by mid-January 2021. The only project that won’t be tender ready by mid-January is the removal of bridge files, simply because they are being executed as we speak.”
Funding for shovel-ready projects is allocated using the same formula as the federal Gas Tax Fund and municipalities can access their allocation by submitting project applications before Oct. 1, 2020.
“The way it is being presented in the RFD, they would be partially funded through the Municipal Stimulus Program as well as some of our unallocated MSI funds. There will be quite a good selection of projects for completion for next year,” added Crofts.
As far as total allocated funds coming for the 2021 M.D. projects, administration explained they were expecting over $800,000 for the stimulus program.
“They indicated the parameters on how they would allocate the funds so we did those calculations and we are expecting $800,000 to $820,000. They are pretty open and fair with giving us that information, it is just not exact,” said Crofts.
With total costs for the projects reaching well over the $820,000 mark, council questioned where the rest of the money was coming from.
Administration explained that unused Municipal Sustainability Funds would cover the costs as they still had plenty left from the prior year.
“After the applications were made for our 2020 MSI projects, we are looking at a carry forward of approximately $2 million of MSI funds from 2020,” stated Bryan Badura, director of corporate services. “The total project cost here for the shovel ready projects is $2,645,000 and we’re expecting $820,000 from the stimulus program so that would mean making an application for just over $1.8 million through MSI. That wouldn’t use quite all of our amounts that were carried forward but the majority of it. In 2021, we expect an MSI application of approximately $2 million.”
A motion to approve the projects to be constructed in the 2021 budget year was carried unanimously.