The County tendered the Ashmont Water Treatment Plant in June 2013. The tenders were opened and based on the lowest compliant bid a letter was sent to Alberta Transportation requesting the additional funding required to complete the project (attached). At the Public Works meeting on July 23, 2013 Council discussed the letter that was received back from the Province (attached). This letter did not provide Council certainty that the project would be funded should the County go ahead with the project. Council asked Administration to set up a meeting with the Minister of Transportation to see if we could clarify the Province's intent of the letter. We have since received a second letter which refers to the Ashmont WTP as well as Murphy Road (attached).
Steve Upham, Frank Sloan, Maxine Fodness, Sheila Kitz, and Kyle Attanasio along with Matt Brassard from Urban Systems met with the Minister of Transportation on August 7, 2013. At that meeting the Minister indicated that this was an approved project that the Province will be funding. He indicated that the Province will finish projects that are already started before funding new Water for Life Projects. That said he is unable to provide more "certain" wording in the letter that the County has received. The Minister did commit to providing a letter to the County should the County wish to hold off the project until the Province can upfront the money for the WTP indicating that the County will still be eligible and not fall out of the "queue" for approval if they delay the project. We have received a letter from the Province today, but it does not explicitly say that either (attached).
Following the meeting with the Minister, I have provided the Province's letters to our Auditor for an opinion on whether the County is able to set up a receivable in the Audited Financial Statement for the Province's unfunded portion. He has committed to provide comments to the County on Monday. In addition, I have spoken to Servus Credit Union to see if they would be able to provide short term borrowing for the Province's unfunded portion of the project whereby the County pays only the interest on the loan for a period up to 5 years.
Additionally I will be meeting with Mike Yakemchuk from Alberta Transportation and Matt Brassard from Urban Systems on Monday, August 12, 2013 to review the project to date.
It is important to note that according to the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index, the average annual construction escalation is 3.7% since 2003 (10 years). The overall increase 43.4%.