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Oak Bay makes prudent financial move on Uplands sewer project

Removing gas tax funds from sewer separation budget keeps federal grant portion at 40%
Oak Bay needs to shift gas tax funds out of Uplands sewer separation project and use other cash instead to retain the highest level of federal grant support. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Shifting funds means more federal cash for the $23-million Uplands sewer separation project if Oak Bay is approved for a grant in the new year.

Uplands has a single-pipe system carrying both sewer and stormwater flows. During heavy rainfall a combination of stormwater and raw sewage discharges into the ocean near the Rutland and Humber pump stations. Provincial regulation requires all B.C. municipalities to have separate stormwater and sanitary sewer systems.

Early next year, Oak Bay plans to apply for a grant through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program where the district contributes 26.67 per cent of the project costs. Staff recommended, and council agreed during its Dec. 13 meeting, to disencumber $6.3 million in previously allocated federal gas tax funds.

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However, gas tax funds used for the project would be deducted from the federal government contribution in the case of a successful grant application.

Council agreed to move the gas tax cash to the general infrastructure budget, and instead dedicate a portion of the property tax-funded Infrastructure Renewal Reserve, $6.12 million, to the sewer separation project.

The move keeps the federal funding portion at 40 per cent of the project. If the grant is successful, the funding breakdown would see $7.6 million (just over 33 per cent) come from the province, $9.2 million (40 per cent) from the federal government and $6.12 million (just shy of 27 per cent) from district coffers.

Had Oak Bay left gas tax funds on the table, the federal contribution would dip to $2.89 million.

The district hopes to embark on the three-phase project next year.

READ ALSO: Debt a near certainty as Oak Bay faces infrastructure shortfall

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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