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Collingwood striking task force for water plant expansion

Collingwood is enlisting the help of neighbours and developers to plead their case to the provincial and federal governments for funding to build the $270M plant
A rendering of the new membrane building design for Collingwood's water treatment plant on Sunset Point.

The Town of Collingwood is planning to strike a task force with neighbouring municipalities and write a joint letter to provincial and federal governments to plead for funding help with the Collingwood water treatment plant expansion.

During the Oct. 3 regular meeting of council, councillors voted unanimously in favour of steps to gather support from New Tecumseth, Town of the Blue Mountains, Clearview Township, Essa Township to approach the provincial and federal governments to ask for financial support for the expansion, following the expectations for costs for the project jumping in September to $270 million and a timeline extension for completion into 2028.

As part of the motion, the town will also ask the province to appoint the provincial land and development facilitator to help co-develop a solution.

“I think our number one hope is the province will see the value in this project,” said the town’s chief administrative officer, Sonya Skinner, in an interview following the meeting.

“This is not just looking at today, and it’s not just Collingwood. It’s all of us in this area,” she said.

According to information released by the town on Sept. 12, updated cost estimates for the Raymond A. Barker water treatment plant expansion are now estimated at $270 million, with an extended timeline to completion in 2028.

Three bids received Sept. 12 from pre-qualified contractors started at $212 million. The bids are valid until Nov. 11.

At a council meeting on Sept. 25, chief administrative officer Sonya Skinner cautioned against not awarding the contract to any of the bidders, noting it would stymie growth immediately in Collingwood.

In March 2022, the estimate for the construction of the treatment plant was $121 million, with an expected completion date of 2026.

This is the second time the estimated construction costs have doubled. The March estimates jumped from about $60 million to $120 million.

The town's water treatment plant has been nearing capacity, running over 80 per cent in 2021. Since then, the town has added some more capacity with more infrastructure at the plant, but the plan was to have an expanded treatment plant operating by 2026.

As of this week, Skinner said the remaining capacity in the plant is about 2,000 units plus any interim capacity.

Collingwood supplies treated drinking water to New Tecumseth via a pipeline connecting the two municipalities. Collingwood and New Tecumseth have had an agreement in place since 2008 specifying that Collingwood provides 6,000 cubic metres per day of treated drinking water to New Tecumseth.

An expanded water treatment plant would allow that number to increase under a new deal struck between the two municipalities in 2022.

A task force will also be struck through this week’s motion, with municipal representatives from all the neighbouring municipalities invited to join. CAO Sonya Skinner and Mayor Yvonne Hamlin will be Collingwood’s representatives on the task force.

Members of the Collingwood development community are also participating in the task force, with Skinner telling CollingwoodToday she is hopeful developers might offer to contribute some of their own funds toward the expansion.

“There is a hope, but we are certainly open to developers looking at innovative options with us. It may be upfront funding. It may be through a guarantee of cash flow. There may be innovative ideas we haven’t even thought of,” said Skinner.

A staff report to include the final projected costs and recommended next steps will be forthcoming to Collingwood council in November.

At the end of the Oct. 3 meeting, council voted unanimously in favour of the motion. Coun. Chris Potts was absent.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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