PR council debates 2023 budget

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Peace River town council and administration are working tirelessly to finalize the 2023 budget and many exciting projects are being proposed.
Proposed projects in the budget discussions originated from the Five-Year Capital Plan. Proposed funding sources for each project helped to determine priority ranking on what could be potentially accomplished in 2023.
“It is unlikely that all projects will be approved for 2023 and some will be moved to the five and 10-year capital plans,” says Mayor Elaine Manzer.
“The items are all important but need to be weighed against what is the risk if they are not done in 2023, the funding available from grants or in the case of water/wastewater- the utility fees which are to be self supporting for water projects in the future,” she adds.
Proposed engineering projects are the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Renewal, pavement overlay in previously identified roads, sidewalk replacement under the Neighbourhood Infrastructure Renewal program (NIR), Main Street Concrete Repair project, Heavy Equipment replacement of a potable water truck, creation of a Climate Change Adaptation Plan, 12 Foot Davis Events Park Bridge Repairs, installation of sidewalk in Upper West Peace, and engineering of Pat’s Creek Flood Control Dam.
“We do hear from residents on the topics of fixing potholes, new pavement, water breaks, and recreational opportunities in the town,” says Manzer.
“The NIR is one that forces the town to annually modernize its basic infrastructure.
“Other items on the list that received a lot of public support was the Pat’s Creek Dam Engineering which would do the planning for a dam but not build the dam.”
Manzer explains the latter initiative will be 90 per cent funded by a grant, so it will help move the initiative further up the list of importance in 2023 projects. She also explains NIP is funded by $1 million in taxes and the majority from provincial and federal grants.
Protective Services is also considering a number of projects in 2023 including the replacement of a burn chamber for Phase 1 Training Simulator, purchase of a heavy-duty rescue truck, purchase of replacement vehicle extraction tools, purchase of an EMS Skid Unit, and purchase of a Lifepak 15 Defibrillator.
“The burn chamber is a part of a Live Fire Training structure that is used to teach firefighters fire behaviour and how to recognize hazardous fire conditions such as flashover, which is a cause of firefighter fatalities,” she says.
“Due to the stresses from the heat of the fires conducted in the burn chamber, it has reached its life expectancy and needs to be replaced. This is a high priority for the fire department so that they can continue conducting this essential training in a safe and controlled manner,” she adds.
Manzer explains the current heavy duty rescue truck has reached its end of service life and it is cost prohibitive to maintain it. The purpose-built rescue truck will provide a rapid response to rescue situations, like motor vehicle collisions, water/ice rescues, and would alleviate some use and wear and tear on larger pumper vehicles.
Proposed community services projects include Diamond 4 upgrade at Ken Horneland Ball Diamonds, hot tub replacement at the pool, and a slide replacement at the pool.
“Our pool is the only indoor pool in the region and is well-used by families, schools, and competitive swimmers,” says Manzer.
“The hot tub and slide also got a lot of support at our recent town open house. Both are major installations in our 32+ year old pool.”
Manzer explains the plan is to demolish the hot tub in January 2023 and develop the engineered plans for its replacement. She says the replacement is expected to happen in the normal annual pool shutdown in September 2023, with the slide possibly also done at the same time. She says the alternative is to demolish the hot tub in September 2023 and only replace it in September 2024, significantly lengthening the time the hot tub would not be in use.
Peace River council is also considering a new lift station, remodeling of town hall’s main entrance to improve accessibility, and upgrades to IT equipment in council chambers.
“The Town completed Lift Station 4 in Lower West Peace in 2022 and the new proposed Lift Station 7 was engineered to work in conjunction with Lift Station 4 to take waste from Shaftesbury Estates to the Wastewater Treatment plant rather than having the waste go down to Lower West Peace’s Lift Station 4,” she explains.
“The entire water and wastewater systems are benefitting from this improved infrastructure. It also improves our system resiliency in that if Lift station 4 has issues in the future, the sanitary sewer from Shaftesbury Estates won’t be affected as it will go through Lift Station 7,” she adds.
Council will have final 2023 budget discussions at December council meetings and hope to have the capital budget and utility fees approved by the end of 2022 along with an interim operating budget.

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