Smiths Falls will apply for grant to support multi-million-dollar water tower project

The Smiths Falls water tower – Laurie Weir photo

The Town of Smiths Falls approved a request from the director of public works and utilities to apply for funding through Housing – Enabling Water Systems Fund (HEWSF) to support the full reconstruction of the trunk watermain upgrade.

During a regular meeting of council on March 11, director Paul McMunn received council’s support to apply for the grant. Funding would support the reconstruction of core water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure along the 1.7 km route associated with the trunk watermain upgrade.

The project —including a new water tower – will cost $24.5M.

According to the Government of Ontario, this HEWSF will make available $200 million over three years to target critical water projects across the province to help unlock more housing in Ontario and reach the government’s goal of building at least 1.5 million homes in the province by 2031.

The trunk watermain (and associated reconstruction) project aligns well the province’s guidelines and meets the criteria for funding, McMunn noted in his report.

  • The HEWSF program is application-based. Projects funded will aim to protect communities by investing in the repair, rehabilitation and expansion of core water, wastewater, and stormwater projects to promote growth and enable housing. Eligible projects under this intake should meet the following project outcomes:
  • Enable growth and housing opportunities (housing development);
  • Increase access to potable water; and,
  • Increase treatment and/or management of wastewater and stormwater.

“The water tower project aligns with the guidelines as well, however provincial funding cannot be with other provincial funding,” McMunn noted. “The town is already the recipient of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP – Green Infrastructure Stream) to support the water tower project, which is funded by the federal government ($2M) and the provincial government ($1,666,500).”

The water tower project is not eligible for funding under the HEWSF program, McMunn added.

Applications are due by April 19, 2024 for this funding, and council supported the request.
If successful, a grant could cover 73 per cent of eligible costs, with 27 per cent to be funded by the town. The maximum funding per applicant is $35 million.

EVB Engineering, who has been awarded the design assignment for this project as well as the water tower project, estimates the total cost for full reconstruction of the trunk watermain route to be $15 million.

There will be some ineligible costs associated with construction, McMunn noted, however, based on a review of what’s eligible and what isn’t, a large portion of project costs could be funded through this program.

The HEWSF program intake is a competitive process, and funding approval is not guaranteed, McMunn noted. Projects must have a clear start date — on or before September 30, 2024, and a clear end date — on or before March 31, 2027 for completion.

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