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Port Alberni’s new wastewater treatment plant nears completion

City needs to borrow an additional $8.5M
The City of Port Alberni purchased Catalyst Paper’s lagoons when they were no longer needed, in anticipation of expanding wastewater treatment to the city’s existing lagoon (seen on the right of the photo). (CITY OF PORT ALBERNI PHOTO)

The City of Port Alberni is in the final stretch of completing its new wastewater treatment plant. All that’s needed is more funding.

The city first purchased the sewage lagoon from Catalyst Paper in 2012 and construction on the new wastewater treatment plant began in 2018. The project was initially expected to cost around $32M, but costs increased as the years progressed, partly due to inflation.

The wastewater treatment plant is now expected to cost $41M.

READ: City approves $10M to finish Port Alberni’s wastewater treatment plant

In September of 2021, city staff informed council that $8.5M would need to be borrowed to complete the project. On Nov. 22, Port Alberni city council gave three readings to a bylaw that, if approved, will allow city staff to borrow the needed funding from the Municipal Finance Authority of BC.

Director of finance Andrew McGifford said this funding is for the “final bit of project left.”

In a separate interview, director of engineering and public works Rob Dickinson said the wastewater treatment plant is very close to being finished.

“We’re just waiting for the final piping to get done,” he said.

READ: City of Port Alberni gets serious about sewage with $65M infrastructure commitment

Poor weather has halted most of the work on the plant, but Dickinson expects this to resume in the spring and anticipates a summer 2022 opening.

Decommissioning and remediation of the old lagoon still needs to take place.

Mayor Sharie Minions said on Nov. 22 that she is proud of the project, despite how long it has taken to see completion. Almost half of the project, she said, has been funded by grant funding.

”This is a project that has spanned many councils and many different employees,” she said.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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