LUNENBURG TO BE STRAIGHT PIPE-FREE BY 2023
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by Cori Marshall
On June 29, the government of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Municipality of the District of Lunenburg announced funding for a major infrastructure project. The current situation is that raw untreated sewage is being released into the La Have River via straight pipes. The inter-governmental collaboration will see the removal of approximate 600 straight pipes and replace them with septic systems.
The Mayor of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, Carolyn Bolivar-Getson confirmed that "this has been an issue for a long time in [the] area." For approximately a decade Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation "has been monitoring and testing," the water.
Bolivar-Getson credits Stella Bowles for bringing attention to the pipe issue, "she did her [grade 5] science project," on the La Have River situation. The Mayor related that the student performed tests and "posted signs in the area stating that the water was unsafe to swim and boat in because of the faecal contamination in the river."
"Anything that we can do to clean up a natural resource in our community is definitely a priority," Bolivar-Getson said.
Lunenburg has to create "a wastewater management district [under] the Municipal Government Act (MGA)." The MGA will establish the boundaries of the District and "limit the municipal role to straight pipe elimination only." The act would also give Lunenburg the "authority to inspect, design, install, maintain, and recover charges for septic systems" the Mayor said.
Bolivar-Getson said that this project would "absolutely not" be possible without the involvement of the provincial and federal governments. The Mayor added that this is "a partnership that is working very well." She underlined that "this is an important day for our community."
The three levels of government are investing a total of $15,741,180, $5,247,060 each. Bolivar-Getson said that "a local organization stepped in with a donation of $1,000,000 to assist [the municipality] moving forward with the project."
Brook Simpson, Press Secretary Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities (INFC), explained that "Infrastructure Canada is a funding partner for [the Lunenburg] project." The federal department does not have a hands-on role after it provides the money needed to carry out the plan. The funds are not just handed over to municipality it is "reimbursed to the province on a proportionate basis once expense claims are submitted." Once the project begins to spend that money Infrastructure Canada can follow the spending.
Simpson explained that once approved INFC "ensures that project funding is available to complete the work," regardless of delays.
Sarah Gillis, Media Relations Advisor Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Municipal, Intergovernmental & Aboriginal Affairs, said that the provincial department "is responsible for administering many infrastructure programs on behalf of the federal government." She added that the province and Lunenburg "will partner on a graduated compliance program."
The funds for the Lunenburg project comes in part from the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund. The Government of Canada proposes to set aside $21.9 billion in the 2017 budget for green infrastructure investment. The municipality expects the project to be completed by 2023, further testing on river water will still be required.