March 12, 2007

Alberta, Ottawa start funding green infrastructure projects through CAMRIF

Medicine Hat and Brooks are the first Alberta communities to benefit from project funding through the new Canada-Alberta Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (CAMRIF). The two municipalities have together received $12 million from the fund. Through CAMRIF, the federal and provincial governments will each contribute $88 million, for a total contribution of $176 million to enable communities to address local infrastructure needs. With matching one-third contributions from municipalities, total program funding will be at least $264 million.

Eligible projects under CAMRIF include water and sewage treatment, solid waste management, public transit and energy improvements to municipal buildings. The fund also supports better roads and bridges, cultural, recreational and tourism projects, and improved broadband Internet access. Projects are selected on a competitive basis from applications received from Alberta communities.

A minimum of 55% of funding under CAMRIF targets "green infrastructure" projects, including water, wastewater, solid waste, environmental energy improvements and public transit. The fund also invests in recreational infrastructure, tourism and cultural projects, local roads and broadband connectivity.

At least 80% of CAMRIF funding is dedicated to rural municipalities with a population of less than 250,000. The remaining 20% is available to urban municipalities with a population greater than 250,000. CAMRIF is implemented by Western Economic Diversification Canada and Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, and is administered by a joint secretariat.

In recent weeks since the program began, project funding announcements have been made throughout the province. In southern Alberta, for example, CAMRIF will invest over $17 million in six municipal infrastructure projects focusing largely on "green" infrastructure that will connect more households to municipal water and wastewater systems, reduce the amount of solid waste that is landfilled and increase energy efficiency.

Among the communities benefitting are Starland County, where nearly $4.5 million will be invested in a rural water expansion project which will connect water supply systems in two small towns to the distribution centres; and Strathmore, where $6 million will go toward expansion of the town's wastewater treatment plant. This project will include a complete primary treatment system, nitrogen and phosphorous removal, biological nutrient removal reactors, and ultraviolet disinfection followed by pressurized granular media filtration.

A third project in this regions will use combined federal/provincial funding of $5.2 million to expand the Drumheller and district regional landfill, providing necessary upgrades to the landfill site and mitigating environmental impacts on the groundwater underlying the site and the surface water entering the Red Deer River. This project will also include the design and development of an engineered composting facility and a regional recycling program. Funding for these three projects is contingent upon the successful completion of an environmental assessment.

A "green" project in the southwestern Alberta town of Turner Valley will construct a new sanitary collection system, including a sanitary main, river crossing and two lift stations, to replace the septic fields near the Sheep River water wells, the town's drinking water source. The new sanitary main will divert wastewater to the municipal sewage treatment plant and reduce the risk of contaminants and toxic substances entering the water system. The project will also protect the Sheep River and the area's ecosystem from contamination. Through CAMRIF, the federal and provincial governments contribute nearly $1.7 million toward this project (pending environmental assessment).

Improvements to Edmonton's public transit system and enhanced water treatment will be supported by $15.2 million in CAMRIF funding. The two infrastructure projects include $9.2 million for three new bus terminals and $6 million for the construction of wetlands to protect the North Saskatchewan River by reducing storm waterrunoff, thus improving water quality.

Improved wastewater/stormwater management is the focus of two additional projects. In Drayton Valley, a combined federal/provincial investment of $3.55 million will go toward upgrading the existing continuous wastewater stabilization lagoons by adding another wastewater stabilization cell, eliminating the existing chlorination system and investing in new state-of-the art, energy-efficient filtration technology. The West Lethbridge core facilities project will receive $6 million from CAMRIF for the construction of a stormwater facility that integrates the stormwater management systems of the surrounding area with adjacent outdoor recreation facilities. Both of these projects are also subject to the successful completion of an environmental assessment.

More information on CAMRIF is available on-line at www.camrif.fa

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