A proposed multi-million dollar sewer project in West St. Paul has some residents worried they will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, as the rural municipality is looking to homeowners to help foot the bill.
Gary Galawan has lived in West St. Paul for 42-and-a-half years, but he may soon have to pay more than $30,000 if he wants to keep living there.
“That’s outrageous, unrealistic,” Galawan told CTV News on Wednesday.
Galawan’s home is one of more than 100 properties affected by a major sewer improvement project on six residential roads including Hiawatha Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue, Kenabeek Street, Evelyn Avenue, Nye Avenue and Baldock Street.
West St. Paul is planning a major sewer improvement project on six residential roads including Hiawatha Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue, Kenabeek Street, Evelyn Avenue, Nye Avenue and Baldock Street.
The rural municipality says residents in this area rely on holding tanks or septic fields for sewer treatment. Because of this, it says there are concerns that wastewater or grey water could be diverted into municipal ditches, and cause potential environmental issues for the nearby Red River.
West St. Paul is now planning to hook up 114 properties along these streets to the RM’s main sewer line.
The total project comes with an estimated $7.2 million price tag, with Manitoba’s water services board covering half that. West St. Paul is on the hook for the other half – $3.6 million – and is looking to the affected property owners to pay that debt pack.
It’s not the fact that residents will have to pay to hook up to the sewer line that has Galawan and his neighbours upset.
“We don’t expect not to pay anything. That wouldn’t be fair to any of the other residents of West St. Paul that have already been hooked up,” he said.
“Ultimately, it’s the outrageous price.”
Homeowners have two options proposed to them.
Residents on Hiawatha Avenue, Minnehaha Avenue and Kenabeek Street can either pay more than $35,000 upfront or pay more than $3,400 annually with interest over 20 years.
On Evelyn Avenue, Nye Avenue and Baldock Street, residents can pay more than $27,000 upfrontor opt for a finance option of more than $2,600 paid annually with interest over 20 years.
A proposed sewer improvement project in West St. Paul comes with an estimated $7.2 million price tag, with Manitoba’s water services board covering half that. West St. Paul is on the hook for the other half – $3.6 million – and is looking to the affected property owners to pay that debt pack.
“And that’s only up to the property line,” Galawan said, adding on top of this, residents will still have to pay another heft bill to actually hook up to the line.
“I don’t think anyone here can afford it. I’ve talked to people they’re already saying if this goes through, they’re going to have to arrange a second mortgage. That is how bad it is.”
Galawan wants to see the rural municipality cover most of the cost with its surplus revenue fund, which he says has several million in it, with the remaining amount covered by the homeowners.
West St. Paul Mayor Peter Truijen said he’s heard the concerns, and said the price tag is not set in stone.
“Council has been in discussions to see if there is ways that we can reduce this price, which we are looking at to see if there is other things that can be done,” Truijen told CTV News.
The RM says if two-thirds of the homeowners object to the project, it will be stalled for two years.
The mayor says if that happens, the whole project could end up costing everyone more, as the 50 per cent funding from the province could disappear.
“This funding is for now, if it stalled, then we don’t know what happens to that funding,” he said.
Galawan said he and his neighbours don’t want to stall the project, but they don’t want to be on the hook for a $35,000 bill either.
A public hearing is planned in the RM for Thursday, July 20, at 6 p.m. at the Access Centre on 48 Holland Road. Truijen said at the meeting, residents can bring up their concerns and ask questions.
Galawan is calling on his neighbours to show up at the meeting and vote no.
“I want everybody to show up. It’s going to be a barnstormer,” he said.
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