January 13, 2017 11:49 am
Updated: January 13, 2017 11:55 am

Flood mitigation under EPCOR could lead to higher utility rates in Edmonton: report

Flooding in Tweddle Place in south-east Edmonton in July 2012.

Kathy Brower
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Edmonton city council may vote to transfer the drainage branch to EPCOR, which could result in higher utility rates for city residents.

EPCOR proposed the drainage branch transfer at the June 14, 2016 city council meeting.

A new city hall report said the amount of flood mitigation work needing to be done will likely lead to the higher rate because government grants won’t be enough.

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Coun. Andrew Knack said council has heard the time frame they’re talking about is getting shorter all the time.

READ MORE: Whitemud flood proposed solutions will be before council next spring – but at what cost? 

“A number of years ago the thought was, this might be a 100 year project. Realistically now, we’re at a minimum of 50 year requirements to get it done,” he said in an interview adding the time frame could get even less.

“Rates will be impacted whatever that decision is, but I would hope we don’t make a decision about flood mitigation solely on how that is going to impact rates,” Knack said.

“We need to prioritize how quickly we need to do the work to make sure everyone is properly protected. That should be the number one priority.”

READ MORE: Severe thunderstorm in Edmonton caused headaches for evening commute

Council is still to hear how much work is urgent, and how much can wait.

“The release of the flood maps just before the winter break, started to provide that information,” Knack said. “At utility committee we’re going to do a deep dive into that, so we will not only take those flood maps but it will be combined with a great deal of analysis that our administration has been doing over the last year or so around how quickly we need to proceed with this flood mitigation.”

The report also says that if EPCOR does get control of drainage, the city would still be eligible for provincial and federal grants, even though the assets would then be in control of a private company.

READ MORE: Heavy rain causes another round of floods and power outages

Edmonton is hoping to get a share of the nearly $22 billion that will be granted over the next 11 years.

“The New Building Canada Fund guidelines’ definition of eligible recipient includes ‘a public sector body that is established by or under provincial or territorial statute or by regulation or is wholly owned by a province, territory, municipal or regional government,'” the report said. “Based on this definition, officials at Infrastructure Canada are of the opinion that municipally-controlled corporations such as EPCOR, would likely be an eligible recipient.”

“I think that might have been the deal breaker for some people if we weren’t going to be eligible for funding,” Knack said.

WATCH ABOVE: Mother Nature unleashed her fury on Alberta’s capital this past summer. The violent thunderstorm rolled through and triggered flash flooding while also sending at least one person to hospital. Shallima Maharaj and Jesse Beyer filed these reports on July 27, 2016.

No specific numbers are being talked about yet, however it’s expected more will be known at the Jan. 24 council meeting.

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