By Tim Kalinowski
Suffield’s aging infrastructure was very much in the spotlight at last Tuesday’s council meeting. Councillors heard of three separate instances of problems that needed remedying, and of the big dollar price tags attached to them.
The largest, by far, was the Suffield water distribution system and the water supply line coming out of CFB Suffield to the hamlet.
Councillors considered approval of two engineering studies on both at a cost of $93,000 for the supply system study and $628,000 for the distribution system study. The studies would be required to make both projects “tender ready” so the County could then look at pursuing grants for the work.
The actual work to fix up Suffield’s distribution system is estimated at $4,930,000, and the current supply line’s replacement from the base at an estimated $538,000.
Councillors debated the merits of financing both or either project at this time. Ultimately, council opted to fund the water distribution study only, and deferred until after next July on the water supply side of things.
Coun. Alf Belyea spoke for most on council on the issue.
“I’ve got an issue with (funding the supply study),” said Belyea, who represents Suffield on council. “We’ve got three years left on our contract with the base and I was speaking with the commander on Remembrance Day about this, and he said he doesn’t want us (our hamlet on base water). We are just a big liability to the base, eh? We are going to be getting a new base commander come July, and we’re going to be starting all over again.
“We can sink $600,000 into this line, but in three years if they say they don’t want us anymore we will have spent $600,000 for nothing.”
Cypress County’s Utilities supervisor Doran Jensen also emphasized to council if it was going to be one or the other, he would prefer to see the money spent on the engineering study for the hamlet’s distribution system; as that is where his main problems are.
“I have health concerns,” said Jensen, “because right now I can’t flush the lines properly. Sometimes the water there is orange. The distribution lines are in extremely poor shape.”
The orange colour is produced by rust from the eight inch cast iron pipe coming in from CFB Suffield, Jensen explained, and has significantly muddied the lines in the hamlet.
Jensen said with proper subsurface infrastructure and distribution lines in Suffield the water coming in from the base could be flushed properly and most problems could be fixed sufficiently enough until the county could work out its long-term supply needs for the community.
Coun. Ernest Mudie concurred with Jensen’s recommendation and expressed his own doubts about coming to a longer term agreement with the base.
“I think this is certainly the way to go,” agreed Coun. Ernest Mudie. “To spend money on a supply line from an uncertain source is ridiculous.”
Suffield’s water supply is heavily dependent on the outcome of negotiations for a long-term agreement with the base, or the eventual linking into a some kind of county-owned regional distribution line in the future.
There is still three years to go on the existing agreement with CFB Suffield for water supply to the hamlet.
A second infrastructure issue in Suffield also took up considerable time during council’s proceedings last Tuesday. County Health and Safety supervisor Tim Davies tabled his report on Suffield’s aging playground equipment.
In summary, Davies recommended all pieces of equipment be torn down and replaced as none complied with current health and safety standards.
The exception was the playground’s rigid “face” climber; which with a few safety improvements could be salvaged.
Councillors voted to allow the Suffield Community Rec. Association consider various options for replacement and come back to council with some sort of plan. Council has donated $50,000 for previous playground replacements in other county hamlets.
The final infrastructure need discussed for Suffield last Tuesday was the replacement of the roof on the community’s hall. The Suffield Community Rec. Association presented an estimate to council through Coun. Alf Belyea which put the cost of tinning the roof at $11,485. Council members unanimously agreed to pick up the bill for the work; to be paid for out of the county’s rec. fund.