Mapleton issues RFP for assistance building water/wastewater infrastructure

MAPLETON – The township is once again looking for outside assistance with financing and constructing municipal water/wastewater facilities.

On Sept. 26, Mapleton council directed staff to call for proposals for a “proponent who can assist in financing and construction of our water/wastewater assets.”

A motion approved by council also directs staff to confirm the agreement will “indeed ensure that [tax] rate increases remain reasonable throughout the entire buildout of the plants.”

Council also directed staff to engage the proponent to help establish a Municipal Service Corporation to “enable the borrowing of funds without negatively impacting the overall borrowing capacity of the township.”

That will “provide a dedicated entity to handle borrowing activities, allowing for better financial planning and accountability,” the motion states.

Regulated in Ontario under the Municipal Act, a Municipal Service Corporation’s shares are owned by a municipality, or a municipality and one or more other public-sector entities, to provide a system, service or thing that the municipality itself could provide.

Mapleton CAO Manny Baron explained for the past six years the municipality has been “trying to figure out ways to address water and wastewater issues.

“We’ve been through … a P3 (public-private partnership) … various stages,” he noted.

Baron was referring to a process which began in 2019 with Mapleton issuing a RFP inviting companies to invest in and propose solutions for the township’s water and wastewater facilities.

On July 15, 2019 the municipality announced the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) had committed to a $20-million debt financing package and the township extended the CIB financing option to all RFP applicants.

One year later, in July of 2020, a proposal would have seen the township outsource not only construction, but operation of municipal water and wastewater infrastructure.

That was scrapped after financial analysis by Mapleton’s finance department indicated self-financing was more advantageous to the township than proceeding with the RFP.

Mayor Gregg Davidson told the Advertiser this latest approach differs from the 2019 RFP because the township is not looking for someone to operate the facilities, simply assist with the construction and financing.

He also said it could involve doing projects one at a time to keep costs manageable.

Baron indicated he feels it’s imperative the township move forward on water/wastewater infrastructure soon.

“I think now with what we were seeing from the government, Build More Homes Faster (Act), with the housing accelerator fund application that we’ve posted, there’s pressure from both the federal and provincial governments to get homes built and us being in the (Greater) Golden Horseshoe growth area, I think it’s important that we begin this journey once and for all,” he stated.

A staff report from the CAO/clerk’s department anticipates “significant growth in Mapleton.

“Due to this demand in housing, it is imperative that we increase the wastewater treatment capacity in Drayton and Moorefield,” the report states.

To address the growth pressures at the local, provincial and federal levels, staff recommends the township proceed with upgrading the treatment plant to accommodate 1,300 cubic metres per day initially, with a long-term goal of reaching 1,800cm/day.

Currently the plant can handle 900cm/day.

“This upgrade will ensure that our wastewater treatment facilities can effectively meet the demands of the growing population,” the report states.

“It’s just time to try to move forward to get some pricing and try to get this plant built,” Baron told council.

“We’re talking about trying to get a school in Mapleton. Well, we can’t do that without water or wastewater.”

The report indicates the upgraded infrastructure would facilitate the timely construction of schools and childcare centres, “rather than waiting for decades.

“Additionally, subdivisions will be able to grow without encountering obstacles and move forward to ensure progress and eliminate roadblocks.”

“We would just like permission from council and direction to move forward with the RFP process so that we can pick somebody that can help us, guide us, through the planning and building and of the wastewater plant and some of the upgrades to the water plant as well,” Baron told council.

An estimate in the report puts the cost for upgrading and renewing both the water and wastewater systems at $23 million.

“If we proceed with the traditional borrowing and staging approach, it would take over 10 years to complete the projects,” the report states.

“However, by forming a partnership, we can significantly reduce the timeline without causing an unmanageable increase in rates. This partnership is crucial to expedite the process and achieve our goals efficiently.”

Council accepted the staff report and approved the recommendations without comment.