Our Future Infrastructure Tab: $126 Million, and Counting

The most significant project is the upgrading of the Mamquam wastewater treatment plant with cost estimates ranging up to $40 million.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 26, 2012

Squamish needs to invest a whopping $126 million over the next 20 years on infrastructure to keep up with its population growth.

Even that number is a low estimate.

 Squamish’s population is expected to grow to 33,100 in 2031.

New water, sewerage, and roads projects would have to be undertaken to maintain the same level of service as now.

The $126 million number was presented at a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, May 22, as part of the plan to upgrade the Development Cost Charge bylaw.

Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are monies that are collected from land developers to offset infrastructure expenditures to service the needs of new development.

The $126 million is a big number, but these are just costs which have DCC applied to them.

Of this $126 million, $84 million would be paid as development cost charge by developers.

The rest, roughly $43 million, would come from district revenue, which also includes tax revenues, among other things.

At the COW meeting, engineer Jenni Chancey apprised the councillors of the major infrastructure projects that would need to be completed in the next two decades.

The current water system supply, she said, is at a maximum capacity and upgrades are required to accommodate future developments.

 New reservoirs, control stations, valve stations, new water mains, are needed that would cost as much as nine million.

Similarily, the sanitary system is also operating at a full capacity in specific areas of Squamish, most notably the downtown and Brackendale areas.

 The most significant project is the upgrading of the Mamquam wastewater treatment plant with cost estimates ranging up to $40 million.

Sanitary Sewer projects take the biggest chunk of the total infrastructure projects: Almost $26 million would be required to pay for projects such as sewer flow assessments, and pump station upgrades.  

 The district also does not have an overall drainage plan and a proposed DCC project could see the completion of a master drainage strategy and integrated storm water.

Several million dollars are also required to upgrade storm water lift stations, downtown storm sewers and Judd Slough and Eagle Run pump stations.

The story is no different for flood protection, and roads. The district will have to build new roads, bike lanes, and undertake intersection improvements.

A new major road, such as the one planned from Third Ave. to Bailey Street, could alone cost $4 million.

An investment of $600,000, for example, is needed for a downtown roundabout that would connect Loggers Lane with Bailey Street and Pemberton Ave.

Coun. Ron Sander believes even the $126 million estimate is low.

Sander said there have been no budget considerations for replacement of assets such as Brennan Park Recreation Centre.

“While there are some estimates on the upgrades at the WWTP, my recent experience at Whistler leads me to believe that the facility could cost considerably more,” he said.

Coun. Doug Race said the cost of new and upgraded infrastructure is the reason Squamish is increasing its utility charges. He feels the district will be able to afford these costs.

“Yes I think we will be able to afford that. We will have to,” he said.