In 2016, the City's Engineering Services Department initiated a process to reconstruct the underground and surface infrastructure of Wheeler Street, which is referred to as the Wheeler Street Local Improvement (LI) Project. Property owner charges associated with the project were approved at the December 12, 2016 meeting of City Council. A bylaw process occurred leading up to the decision that included a 30-day voting period for property owners and a public hearing. PS Sidhu Trucking completed construction work in 2019, which began in 2017.
For details, view the Administrative Reports below.
- December 5 Public Input Report (includes property owner vote results)
- October 17 Administrative Report to City Council
- Bylaw 2016-39 (includes LI Charges to property owners)
Preliminary Infrastructure Design
Two public meetings and a survey occurred in late summer to collect property owner and resident feedback on design preferences. A draft preliminary (conceptual) design has been developed that can be viewed below:
A consultant will be hired in January 2017 to complete a detailed design that will require further consultation with property owners to finalize design aspects such as property access and sanitary/water service replacements. The earliest potential start date for construction is spring 2017. Completion is anticipated in fall 2018.
The City is proceeding with the Wheeler Street LI Project for several reasons:
- Aging water and sewer mains: The water and sewer mains that run underneath Wheeler Street date back to the 1950s and are constructed of asbestos cement. This material typically has a functional life of 40 to 65 years. Since 1977, Wheeler Street repairs have occurred to: five water services; six sanitary sewer services; one sanitary main; and one hydrant. The City is pro-actively seeking to replace this infrastructure because repairs to mains and services are disruptive and costly. The average cost to the City for a service repair in this area is $5,000 to $7,000. Costs to home owners are similar for repairs to services on private property.
- Bleeding water services: Many buildings in downtown have water systems that periodically “bleed” (release) water during cold months to prevent services from freezing. The City is seeking to replace bleeders with recirculating services because the practice consumes a vast amount of water, which is expensive and energy intensive for the City to treat to potable standards, heat, and circulate. The practice also contributes to dilution of the sanitary lagoon, which inhibits its proper functioning.
- Service capacity requirements: The 150 mm diameter water mains that currently service Wheeler Street require up-sizing to ensure that fire-flow requirements are met. Larger mains will also help to ensure that service provision is adequately maintained for current and future residents, in light of new development in the area.
- Deteriorating road surface: In its current state, the level of service provided by the Wheeler Street roadway is considered very poor. The paved surface is deteriorating and potholes are a common occurrence. The roadway has reached the end of its useful life, meaning that it is no longer economical to perform regular maintenance and repair, and it instead requires a complete rehabilitation.
Reconstruction is a large undertaking and is costly, but by cost-sharing through an LI Charge, the cost to property owners is less than what an emergency repair of a failed service would be if it occurred on private property.
The City will pay for all underground works in the right-of-way and for a new recirculating water service on each property all the way to the front of the building/residence. The property owner will be responsible for purchasing a recirculating pump and for any related indoor plumbing work (estimated at $2,000 to $3,000). Property owners will have the option to replace their sewer service while the reconstruction project is underway (estimated at $100/metre). For reference, the cost to install a new residential water service independent of the LI Project is estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.
The cost of surface works will be shared between the City and property owners, as described in the City’s LI Policy. The charge is applied to the length of each property’s frontage on a per metre basis. Government owners pay the full frontage rate, commercial properties pay 2/3 of the rate, and residential property owners pay 1/3 of the rate. For properties with mixed use zoning (commercial/residential), the commercial rate will only apply if a commercial use is currently in operation.
The 2016 LI Charge rates are as follows:
- Government: $1,900/metre of frontage
- Commercial: $1,266/metre of frontage
- Residential and non-profit: $633/metre of frontage
The LI Charge can be paid as a lump-sum or in installments over 15 years as part of the Municipal tax bill.
Taylor Eshpeter, Assistant Engineer, (867) 689-2143, email@example.com