A port city on B.C.’s northwest coast is getting some help for its aging water system.
On Friday, Premier David Eby announced his government is giving Prince Rupert, home to about 14,000 residents, $65 million to replace sections of the city’s water distribution system.
“Everyone in the community deserves a reliable system of drinking water, it’s a basic, but for Prince Rupert residents, that hasn’t always been the case,” Eby said.
“Much of the city’s infrastructure is aging and in need of renewal.”
The funding, through the Critical Community Infrastructure Fund, is in addition to the $1-billion Growing Communities Fund announced this month, which was given to municipalities and districts to support infrastructure and amenities needs, the province said in a statement.
The province said Prince Rupert has been seeing an increasing amount of water main breaks — referring to the main line in the water supply — and service disruptions, referencing a line break in December, which it said threatened the community’s water supply.
Local officials declared a state of emergency on Dec. 17, 2022, after several water main breaks that week. At the time, the mayor said much of the pipes are more than 100 years old, and because the ground they are in has little soil, it causes them to shift, making them more susceptible to damage.
The community has also had to boil water on multiple occasions over the past few years, and some advisories have lasted months.
Prince Rupert has around $600 million in municipal debt, with half of that due to water infrastructure, including a dam project the city hopes would reduce the number of boil advisories it’s been seeing.
Mayor Herb Pond said the $65-million funding is the largest investment the province has made in the city.
“We’re living in a house that needs a lot of repair, for all kinds of reasons, we couldn’t afford to do the repairs,” Pond said. “We know that there’s a big bill attached to that.”
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