Skip to content

City sees preliminary costs rising for Williams Lake water treatment plant

Water treatment plant preliminary work is underway

Williams Lake approved an additional $203,500 for a cost associated with the new water treatment plant, as the preliminary work begins.

City council had to weigh their options at the regular May 28 council meeting, on whether to approve the increase in estimated costs for some line locating, heavy equipment work and traffic control to support the ongoing archaeology work on the project.

Gary Muraca, chief administrative officer for the city, after a question regarding how this might impact the project and associated grant funds said these additional costs would likely fall to the city.

Councillor Scott Nelson suggested using Williams Lake Community Forest funds to put towards the project in order to avoid tax increases.

Mayor Surinderpal Rathor said this is the reason he presses for saving every penny possible, even encouraging council to carpool to save on travel costs.

“I don’t think anyone sitting here can guarantee me the budget is going to be $25.3 million,” said Rathor.

“I’m deadly against borrowing more money,” he said.

Sugar Cane Archaeology (SCA), the subcontractor completing the archaeology work, did not change anything in their estimate, SCA’s CEO Britanny Cleminson told the Williams Lake Tribune Monday (June 3).

“Outlined in the initial estimate were all assumptions, exclusions, and inclusions, including the explicitly stated exclusion of buried utility location and heavy machinery from the provided scope,” said Cleminson.

She said archaeology work by Sugar Cane Archaeology (SCA) has already been underway since May 15 and is about 50 per cent completed. The study area is a three-kilometre stretch of roadway between a facility on Scout Island, along the road linking Scout Island, and along Duncan Road.

The area is known to have high archaeological potential and is within the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) settlement with the federal government which recognized the First Nation’s traditional land claim in the area. WLFN was awarded $135 million in a landmark settlement in 2022 for being pushed off of their traditional village site.

“Archaeological and cultural sites, both recorded and unrecorded, are present on the island and speak to its history as an important fishing area, gathering location, and village site for the Nation since time immemorial,” said Cleminson.

The original grant application for the water treatment plant had forecast the costs to complete the archaeology project at $130,000, prior to the subcontractor with knowledge of the area and project providing input, and then providing an estimate of $508,838.

The latest estimate for the total preliminary project work is $712,338. This includes the archaeology survey work and now includes the heavy equipment and traffic control costs as well.

Preliminary estimates always include the caveat the costs can change depending on what is found in initial survey work, explained Cleminson. SCA has alredy found a chert biface tool during their survey work so far.

“As positive results are identified, additional work is required under the provincial Heritage Conservation Act for these new sites and pre-existing sites within the project footprint,” noted Cleminson. “We look forward to continuing to work with the CoWL and its project team in a good way to manage and protect these sites throughout the project.”

Muraca said as the project gets going, hopefully council won’t have to approve many more extra costs because contingencies will be in place to deal with them.

The city has been proactive in obtaining significant grant funds to support the construction of a new water treatment plant for the community, something needed in order for the city’s water to reduce the amount of manganese in the water to meet new federal guidelines.

In October of 2023, Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister Anne Kang, and Mayor Surinderpal Rathor announced a federal, provincial and municipal joint investment of $24.3 million into the project.

For the project, $9,726,750 will come from the federal government, $8,104,814 from the province, with the city contributing $6,485,311 so far.

With a file from Monica Lamb-Yorksi.

This story has been updated to clarify the equipment and traffic control costs are indirect costs associated with the survey work, not part of archaeology contractor estimates.

READ MORE:City of Williams Lake declares Stampede Season starts June 1

Don’t miss out on reading the latest local, provincial and national news offered at the Williams LakeTribune. Sign up for our free newsletter here.

Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
Read more