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Outlook open house sheds light on upcoming road work

Upcoming projects include a major re-hauling of water and sewer system.

OUTLOOK - Another community open house event last week at the Outlook Civic Centre helped spread the word about current events and shed light on products and services being offered by a number of local businesses, clubs and organizations.

Held on Wednesday night, April 5, the third edition of the event had a good turnout of people who came out to learn more about what's happening in the riverside community.

A number of different exhibits were on display that weren't present at previous events, showing the wide berth of businesses and organizations both in town and beyond.

The Outlook branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was present, as was River & Rail ArtVenture, the Outlook Community Garden, Luther Place, the Chamber of Commerce, Small Steps Early Learning Centre, Outlook High School, the Outlook and District Playschool, Loraas Disposal, and many more.

Kevin Trew, Chief Administrator for the Town of Outlook, was happy to see the event was a success.

"We are very pleased with the turnout and the fantastic questions and comments we received at the open house," he said. "Our team is always learning and growing, and making changes for the next semi-annual open house which will be held in September this year."

Trew says that members of Town Council, the town's executive team and administration fielded a number of questions from attendees, and it's expected that those questions and answers will be shared on the Town's official website.

He says that he was asked about multiple projects going on around town, as well as a few initiatives that will soon be underway. For Trew, though, one topic of conversation seemed to stand out as it relates to the future of Outlook.

"For myself, I fielded a number of questions about water and sewer rates, garbage pickup, the new U22 Hockey team, Railyard Subdivision, Doctor’s Clinic, Highway 15 Rehabilitation, Highway 15 Underground infrastructure Replacement Project, the water intake testing work on the river affecting the west side of the river as well as the golf course," said Trew. "Whether I heard from someone who supported every project or someone who had doubts, the feeling was clear that everyone felt that we should be ready for growth, but that we should also be prepared to keep costs at a minimum and maintain low utility fees and low taxes as we can; we heard from more and more people that are concerned about how far their income can be stretched these days with inflationary pressures – families are seeing cost increases at the grocery store, at restaurants and in all retails, the demands for the Town to cut costs to meet with the current revenue as a ceiling was heard loud and clear; the Town will need to continue to look for and find efficiencies in our operation."

In speaking with Council following the event, it was felt among everyone that the open house was a success.

"We had a quick debrief with all members of Council last night and many of them heard the same questions, but they also heard a lot of positive feedback regarding all of the projects the Town has been completing these past two years; Council all agreed that this was a successful evening," said Trew. "This morning, I talked to my administration team and my executive team and members found it very worthwhile, we are already excited to implement new plans into the next open house."

As well, one major topic of conversation was the Town's upcoming water and sewer improvements project that will affect McKenzie Street and Saskatchewan Avenue. Known as Phases 1 and 2, proceeding with the project will include work from Hall Avenue to Saskatchewan Avenue (McKenzie Street portion) and McKenzie Street to Christie Street (Saskatchewan Avenue portion).

Construction will include rehabilitation of the sanitary sewer mains using a Cured-in-Place-Pipe liner method (CIPP); installation of new water and sewer services to property line; storm pipe and catch basin replacements; and surface restoration.

The contracted firm carrying out this work will begin in early May, and it's expected to conclude by November.

A handout sheet provided at the open house contained the following information about the upcoming project:

As part of the Work, the Contractor will install new water and sanitary sewer services from the main to property line for residents and businesses within the project area. The existing services are original some dating back about 60 years which is beyond their expected useful life, and many of the water lines have had failures in recent years. It is imperative that these lines be replaced before any significant work is done to the failing highway surface that is in dire need of replacement. The Town previously replaced water mains along McKenzie Street portion of Highway 15 in 2015. A new curb stop will be installed at the property line and tied into the existing building services. Service lines that have been recently replaced will be left in place.

The Town has recently had to replace sanitary service lines on McKenzie Street that were cracked. The Town wants to be proactive and replace the service lines before it becomes an expensive large-scale problem. Since the Contractor will be actively completing the service replacements, it would be prudent to have the entire service line replaced from the main, to the building. This would require the Contractor to conduct work on private property, which requires permission from you, the landowner. Replacement of the entire service line addresses current and future issues since the entire line is replaced. This will help keep utility bills low and limit the cost of future repairs. Brand-new pipe has an expected service life of over 50 years and will minimize the need for repairs in the future.

The average cost to complete the entire sewer service line from the main to the building is approximately $8,500 per property. The Town recognises the substantial cost associated with the service line installs and incorporated policy in 2020 and has seen a lot of success implementing this over the past three years.

In policy, in order to alleviate the financial burden to the homeowner, the Town subsidises the cost of new service line installations for those who wish to have their building services replaced. Regardless of the final cost, the cost to the property owner for new water and sewer service lines is limited to $1,000 per property.

For this project, the Town will be reaching out directly to the approximately 90 property owners affected and give each of them the option to replace the sewer service line right to the building for $1,000 OR sign a waiver that the Town will not be held liable should the sewer service line fail from the property line to the building. We are confident that each property owner will opt to pay the $1,000 either up front or with a payment plan. The Contractor will be qualified to complete the work, and will work to minimize the disturbance to the property during the install. The Contractor may not need to enter the home/business as they plan to make the final connection right at the building foundation.

There may be special circumstances that make a connection at the foundation wall impractical and those will be discussed with the home/business owner on a case-by-case basis. We make assurance that any damage to private property intentional or accidental will be covered by the contractor and/or the Town on a case-by-case basis and in reasonable time. In an effort to mitigate potential risk or damage and in order to protect valuable lawn décor and unique or irreplaceable vegetation, all property owners are encouraged to remove these prior to the start of the work this spring. Every effort will be made by the Town and the contractor to assess each yard and inform the property owner of risks prior to the work starting.

The Town of Outlook plans to reach out to each affected individual property owner in the next 6 to 8 weeks to discuss this direct.