The Town of The Blue Mountains has cautiously thrown its support behind the efforts of Collingwood and New Tecumseth to secure higher-level government funding for a water plant expansion.
At its committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 17, The Blue Mountains council voted in favour of a resolution from Collingwood CAO Sonja Skinner asking the town to endorse efforts to secure funding from the provincial and federal governments for the water plant expansion.
“The councils of Collingwood and New Tecumseth are asking for your council’s support in our asks to the provincial and federal government that they support our drinking water treatment plant expansion,” Skinner said in her letter. “We believe that the servicing of growth in your municipality may benefit from the availability of sufficient, reasonably priced and high-quality drinking water from this plant, either immediately or over time.”
Collingwood and New Tecumseth are seeking financial support from the upper levels of government for the project, because recent bids for the infrastructure work escalated to about $270 million, approximately double the 2022 estimated costs.
The resolution (which can be found here) called on financial assistance for the water plant project from the province and Ottawa, requested the appointment of a provincial land and development facilitator to assist with the project and the creation of a local regional short-term task force with the development community to advance the project.
Currently, the Craigleith area of The Blue Mountains receives water services from Collingwood. Council voted in favour of the resolution from Skinner, but not before making changes to signal that the town’s support did not mean it is committing funding to the water plant expansion project.
Council added two lines to the resolution to recognize that the town is conducting an environmental assessment of long-term water supply options for its east side, which may end in the town pursuing its own options for water services in the area. A second line added that The Blue Mountains supports the consideration of regional solutions for water supply.
“I don’t want to tie our hands,” said Coun. Gail Ardiel. “We do have other options to look at. We may need money ourselves.”
Mayor Andrea Matrosovs urged council to support the efforts of Collingwood and New Tecumseth.
“It’s important for us to maintain our relationships with our neighbouring municipalities,” she said. “We understand what Collingwood is trying to do. We as a neighbouring municipality can support their efforts. There is an urgency. The province needs to pay attention to the needs of the region right now.”
The resolution passed in a 5-1 vote with Coun. Alex Maxwell opposed and Deputy Mayor Peter Bordingon absent.
Council also decided that CAO Shawn Everitt would represent the town on the short-term task force if the group is formed.