David Ashdown says "it's a really exciting time". That may be an understatment to the residents of Craik, SK, of which Ashdown is the mayor.
The community of about 450 people is located 86 kilometres northwest of Moose Jaw on highway 11, and has been on a "boil-water advisory" since 2010.
"The issue was that a new water plant was put in that was never very effective," explained Ashdown, who wasn't a resident at the time but was elected mayor this past October, following a stint on town council. "Then the company that put it in went bankrupt. So we were stuck out there, trying to figure out the best way to move forward."
Last week an announcement from the federal and provincial governments paved the way for them to "move forward" in a big way.
26 communities in the province were awarded grants through the joint Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, with Craik on the receiving end of $1.4 million, earmarked for a new water treatment plant.
Ashdown says the funds will allow them to explore options that had been provided by engineers in the past, but were simply too expensive...at the time.
"Now we're going to be able to move forward on three priorities that we hoped to have done, but didn't think we could," he said.
Those priorities are:
- switching to ground water from surface water ("Right now we get our water from the Craik reservoir, but that has problems with turbidity and a varierty of things," Ashdown explained.)
- Exploring all four of the options for a new plant that were provided by the consulting engineers ("Not only would be have potable water, but higher-quality potable water.)
- securing a better distribution system ("It's in need of an upgrade, and we weren't able to put it at the top of the list when we thought we were funding the program ourselves.")
Ashdown says the funding announcement was a positive statement about his community.
"It says that Craik is worth investing in," Ashdown stated. "We're a viable community and we have a future. Now we need to work with it in terms of economic development, social development (and) community programming."
The Clean Water and Wastewater Fund is set up so that the federal government kicks in 50% of the project cost, the provinces contribute 25% and the municipality is responsible for the final 25%. In this case, Ottawa put up $950,659, Saskatchewan contributed $475,329 and Craik's share would be the same.
Ashdown says their portion will be easily looked after, with $370,000 for the project coming from insurance money the town received when their Eco-Centre burned down last March.
He says they have a council in meeting next month to discuss their next move.