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City takes another shot at lagoon money

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An expansion of Dauphin’s sewage lagoon system has been a shovel-ready project for a number of years, waiting simply on funding from senior levels of government for completion.
But city administrators are hoping a new intake for grant applications under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, which opened last week, will finally see the project come to fruition.
The program will invest a combined more than $3 billion across the province over the next 10 years.
“We are told there will be intake throughout the 10 years, but I think it was in our best interest to get in as early as possible, because if the funding is depleted in year six or seven, I doubt that they would add money to it. That is me talking. So we want to get in the first round,” city manager Sharla Griffiths said, adding the city was anticipating the application process would open later in the year and work is underway to get the application in as soon as possible.
The current intake of applications closes Sept. 12, Griffiths said.
“So I cannot see us getting anything back from the province before the end of the year. It did not clearly say if they would be reviewed and decided upon, as they came in. I would presume they wouldn’t even start to review them until after Sept. 12,” she said.
“So this would definitely be a 2020 project at the earliest, or later. But knowing we have funding secured for whichever year it is, gives us that target to work toward.”
The project was identified as a priority by the city several years ago and many attempts to secure funding over the years have not borne fruit.
With the project already designed and environmental licensing in place, Griffiths is hoping this time is different.
“(Applications) are evaluated in Manitoba against other Manitoba projects. So if there is a more pressing need in another community, that is where the money goes,” Griffiths said.
“The previous city manager’s experience was that it felt like other people were put before us who were not nearly as ready as us, and we were given a song and dance about why we were not accepted. But if I don’t know why we were not awarded it in years past, I can’t change anything, because I don’t know what to change.”
The necessary lagoon upgrades are estimated to cost $13 million. Under the program, 40 per cent of the money would be supplied by the federal government with 33.33 per cent coming from the province and 26.67 per cent from the city.