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Posted: July 24, 2018

Completion of biggest project in RDEK history celebrated

In the almost 12 years that Mike Sosnowski has been Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Electoral Area A Director, he has always been up to his chin in West Fernie servicing and restructure.

Sosnowski today, along with B.C. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare, City of Fernie and RDEK dignitaries and some West Fernie residents, celebrated the completion of the $16.4 million West Fernie Servicing & Restructure Project – the largest construction project ever undertaken by the RDEK.

Electoral Area A Director Mike Sosnowski

“Today marks an important milestone in the Elk Valley’s history as we officially celebrate the completion of a project that has been 12 years in the making. The completion of this project is the result of the determination and cooperation of so many,” Sosnowski stated.

“We are grateful to the provincial and federal governments for providing critical funding for the project. I also want to thank the staff at the RDEK and City of Fernie who have worked tirelessly to get to this point; the engineers and construction contractors who’ve worked so hard with the community over the past two years; and, the community who have been so cooperative and understanding throughout the construction process,” he said.

The West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project provided West Fernie residents and businesses with upgraded water and new storm-water sewer and sanitary sewer systems. The work included the rehabilitation of approximately 4.1 kilometres of potable water mains, approximately 3.4 kilometres of sanitary sewer and 3.3 kilometres of stormwater mains, and repaving of all the roads.

The upgraded water system replaces the previous system that was more than 50 years old and in deteriorating condition, while the new sanitary sewer system will allow 200 homes within the project area to move away from individual septic tanks. Finally, the new stormwater management system will provide better management of localized flooding, run-off and spring melt throughout much of the community.

With $16.4 million in available funding, this project was an exceptional example of cooperation as multiple funding sources contributed to making the project happen and multiple agencies worked together to bring it to a successful completion.

Funding for the two-phase project included:

  • $5 million General Strategic Priorities Fund (Phase 1);
  • $1 million Community Works Fund (Phase 1);
  • $240,000 Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Phase 1);
  • $6,941,528 Building Canada Fund (Phase 2);
  • The remainder of the project costs were covered by borrowing and a contribution from the Electoral Area A portion of the Elk Valley Mine Tax Fund.
Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka was also on hand for today’s ceremony.

Approved by West Fernie and City of Fernie residents in 2014, the West Fernie Servicing & Restructure project’s first phase of construction started in the spring of 2016, while the second phase of construction got underway in the spring of 2017.

Properties in each phase of the project became part of the City of Fernie upon substantial construction completion.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that investing in up-to-date efficient water systems is key to creating strong healthy communities. I’m very pleased to see that West Fernie has been able to upgrade its water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure thanks to our funding. This work will not only improve residents’ quality of life, but strengthen the foundation for community development and economic growth for years to come,” stated François-Philippe, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in a press release.

“The new West Fernie water and sewer systems are a great asset to the community and will make a positive impact in the lives of the people who live here. This is an example of how partnerships between all levels of government support communities to thrive and make life better for British Columbians,” stated Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

“This is an exciting day. On behalf of the City of Fernie, I would like to acknowledge all the funders who made this project possible. The new water and wastewater infrastructure will make a significant impact for years to come. From the earliest stages of planning and in-ground construction to the hours of work on the boundary restructure and ongoing operations, we commend everyone who contributed to the project’s success,” said City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano.

Sosnowski also thanked former Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett and former Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks for their work helping make this lengthy project a reality.

The brief ceremony was held at the corner of McDonald Avenue and Mill Street, close to where the project launch ceremony was held two years ago.

Lead image: From left, RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay, City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano, Hon. Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Area A Director Mike Sosnowski at today’s project completion ceremony held in West Fernie. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

Photos and video by Carrie Schafer and Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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