An official ceremony on Monday marked the completion of the new Wellington North wastewater treatment plant in Mount Forest.
The recently replaced Bridge 25 was also celebrated.
Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger, Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson and Wellington North Mayor Mike Broomhead were pleased to see these important Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (COMRIF) projects reach completion.
Work in the Mount Forest included the construction of a new sewage plant, the conversion of the existing plant into a pumping station and flow equalization facility and the construction of a new sewage forcemain between the two facilities.
The federal and provincial governments each committed up to $5,589,534 to the project. The township pays the balance from the total eligible cost of $16,768,602.
Work on the bridge included replacing the existing bridge with a new two-lane bridge with railings that meet current standards, and with improved grades and navigable clearance. That work increased its load capacity and improved access for residential and commercial use, and for emergency response vehicles.
The governments of Canada and Ontario each committed up to $129,333 to that project.
“Infrastructure matters to Canadians and positively impacts our community and local economy,” said Schellenberger.
“I am delighted to see the completion of these projects, which benefit the residents of Wellington North.
Wilkinson said, “These two projects are yet another example of how when the three levels of government work together we can create jobs in the short term while improving the quality of life for rural Ontarians in the long term.
“Even in challenging economic times we all believe that Wellington North is a great place to invest in for a brighter future.”
Mayor Mike Broomhead added, “The new plant benefits area residents by improving and extending water services, while reducing pollution in the South Saugeen River. The replacement of bridge 25 allows for safer transportation for vehicles of all sizes.”
After welcoming those in attendance, Broomhead offered some background to the project.
“We started about 21 years ago, when I was first elected to council,” he said, adding the construction of a new sewage treatment plant was planned for that spring.
“There was a need in the community if it was to grow and prosper.”
He explained there was a need to get away from the old plant, near the river, which was starting to decay and had its problems. That was the number one project, 21 years ago.
“Well it wasn’t quite that easy,” Broomhead said. Instead, the project became embroiled in river studies and a lot of other things involved with the process.
“A million dollars later, you are still working on preparing the studies and getting the studies for the river flow and quality of water. It took that long to put these kinds of things in place.” He cited the nearby sludge treatment plant, “which cost just shy of $3-million … then the lobbying began.”
Broomhead explained the lobbying went through three sets of governments, and at least a dozen Ministry of Environment ministers “in the process to come to where we are today.”
The municipality was fortunate to get two-thirds funding to take on the $16-million project, he said, adding, “We’re so proud of it. It is a state of the art facility.”
He said once the effluent goes through the process, including filtration and ultraviolet treatment “you could take a cup of water that goes to the river and drink it.”
He joked that councillor Bob Mason would offer demonstrations later on.
Schellenberger commented that “one of the best parts of my job as your MP is being able to celebrate infrastructure improvements in our community at events such as this.”
After addressing the partnerships for the project funding, Schellenberger said “during these challenging economic times, the governments of Canada and Ontario are working together … to build a strong and bright future.”
He pointed to other work in Wellington North in both Mount Forest and Arthur. Schellenberger said these projects received a total of nearly $6.5-million through various joint infrastructure programs.
In his introduction of Wilkinson, Broomhead said the MPP is enjoying his job as Minister of Revenue. He added that “John will be responsible … not today … of explaining to us how to put the harmonized tax in place.”
Wilkinson noted the province collects about $100- million a day in revenue.
With humour, he said, “When the premier asked me to do this job, I said, ‘Dalton, I’ll do that, I just need a percentage to come to Perth-Wellington.’ If I’m going to collect $100-million a day and it’s my responsibility, we can have just a little bit come to the riding.”
He said the new facility “is a great example of your tax dollars at work.”
On a more serious note, he said that in rural Ontario, “we have a lot of land and not a lot of people. The economics are better in the city where there is a lot of people and not a lot of land. The only way we can have quality infrastructure (in rural areas) is when the federal, provincial and municipal governments form a partnership.”
He said the decisions as to what is key to helping the community grow and prosper should be made locally.
“But when you make that decision here in rural Ontario, you need the other two levels of government that you elect, to come together to form a partnership.”
He agreed with Schellenberger that there are considerable numbers of other projects being done.
“But there is no way the property taxpayers could afford this all by themselves .. and that is why it is so important to form the new partnership,” he said.
Dale Murray, of Triton Engineering, also spoke on behalf of Triton staff and management. He thanked the township “for giving Triton the opportunity to complete the environmental planning, the design and ultimately, help in the construction of this facility.” He also congratulated Wellington Construction for its dedication to the project.
“The quality of the work is second to none … as it always is with Wellington Construction,” Murray said. He also thanked the staff of the Ontario Clean Water Agency for its insight during the design stage.
“We hope you like your new home in Mount Forest.”
Broomhead said Wellington Construction did a tremendous job and put that “little bit extra” into the project. Tours of the facility were offered following the presentations, plaque unveiling and ribbon cutting.