A regional wastewater treatment facility in southeastern Manitoba is now one step closer to reality. The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced Tuesday afternoon a loan for the Red-Seine-Rat (RSR) Wastewater Cooperative.

The project was first announced in December of 2019. At that time, Hanover, Tache, Ritchot, and Niverville entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to create the cooperative, with hopes of creating a regional wastewater collection system and plant to enhance wastewater management. At the time it was announced that the plant would be located just north of Niverville at a cost of nearly $110 million. However, the project would be contingent on nearly $80 million in provincial and federal funding. 

Then, in August of 2022, plans were unveiled for the facility at a funding announcement in Niverville. At the time of the announcement, the project was still expected to cost approximately $110 million, with a 25 per cent contingency. Our provincial government committed $18 million towards the work, while the federal government promised $21 million. The remaining $71 million needed to come from the four jurisdictions.

Earlier this year, the cooperative announced that the estimated cost of the project is now $190 million. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the CIB made a joint announcement regarding both the RSR and a water treatment facility upgrade and expansion project in Brandon. CIB will be providing a combined loan of up to $140 million. 

Gord Daman, President for Red River Group, says RSR's official component of lending from CIB will be $51 million, while Brandon's will be $43 million. 

"There's a higher approval rate in case there's more assistance required," says Daman, explaining the gap between these combined numbers and the $140 million approved loan. 

Dignitaries raise their cups following Tuesday's announcement (Shannon Dueck)Dignitaries raise their cups following Tuesday's announcement.

Terms of the loan were not disclosed.

"We never communicate interest rates because we're doing these loans to communities all over the country," explains Ehren Cory, Chief Executive Officer for CIB. "It's certainly less than a bank, less than commercial rates. And we set our interest rate for each project based on what the project can afford."

RSR Board Chair Jim Funk says the loan announced Tuesday is the last piece of funding needed before construction can begin. 

"We would be prepared and ready to go ahead," says Funk, referring to the RM of Hanover. "I can't speak for the other municipalities, but I would believe we all four probably would be ready to move ahead."

He notes they are hoping to go to tender in October of this year, suggesting construction of the project might then begin in 2025. 

The wastewater treatment facility will be constructed at the existing site of the Niverville lagoon. The project moves away from traditional wastewater lagoons. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55,300 tonnes over its life and add significant additional capacity required to support some of the fastest-growing communities in Manitoba. The RSR project will include the installation of a wastewater conveyance system with approximately 90 kilometres of effluent pipeline, as well as new lift and pump stations. 

"RSR is very pleased to be able to partner with the Canada Infrastructure Bank," says Funk. "This investment from CIB will ensure that our region continues to be an attractive place for families to call home."

According to RSR, this project will provide capacity for 12,600 new housing units in the member municipalities, investment into the local economy of nearly $1.9 billion in new capital and construction and approximately 3,400 new jobs. 

Though Hanover, Niverville, Tache, and Ritchot are the four partners in this project, there have also been discussions with Steinbach, La Broquerie, and De Salaberry to potentially join as well.