BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
After review of a report put together by Red Lake Public Works and the Economic Development Officer, Red Lake council has voted to apply for Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative (MIII) funding which would be used to complete water, road and sewer-related maintenance work for a 330 m portion of Lassie Rd. in Balmertown.
“We’ve got an engineering study done on this already. It’s high-density, full of residents…Basically it’s a portion that starts kind of parallel from where the hockey rink is – outdoor rink – up towards the mine, until you hit Mine Rd…” said Municipal CAO Mark Vermette, at a council meeting last week.
This is the second year in a row the Municipality has applied for funding to carry out maintenance work on Lassie Rd. But at a cost of nearly $3,000 a metre, and since the MIII funding is capped at $1 million per project, fixing the entire Lassie Rd. would have left the Municipality responsible for a shortfall of $1,952,248 last year. Council and staff decided repairing even a portion of the road would be better than nothing, especially since its infrastructure is some of the oldest in the area.
“If you look at our water and sewer programs around the district, a lot of it was done in the 60s and 70s and 80s…This stuff (on Lassie Rd.) was done in the 40s. It’s at its end of life based on the quality of the day,” said Mayor Phil Vinet.
Last year less than 80 municipalities of the over 400 to apply received MIII funding. There are another 444 municipalities applying for the funding this year.
“These programs are very massively subscribed. It’s staggering,” says Economic Development Officer Bill Greenway.
But he says the municipalities that are successful in securing MIII funding are the ones whose projects – if left unattended – pose health and safety risks to a large number of people.
“It’s not luck of the draw and it’s not how the application is written or anything else,” he says. “There are some very pressing items. It could be a bridge that’s nearing collapse, or a busted line or a water treatment plant that’s down or it could be an issue affecting 50,000 people.”
This year, all municipalities must complete an asset management plan in order to be eligible for the MIII funding. Red Lake’s is nearing completion.
The other two areas considered by council were a 300 m stretch along the “high traffic” Hammell Rd. in Red Lake (from the corner of Howey St. to the bend in Hammell Rd. just past the location of Petro Canada) and 283 m (or the entire length) of Patricia Square – an area with no sidewalks that gets a lot of use, particularly by students on foot.