The city of Steinbach is making plans to upgrade and expand its lift station along Loewen Boulevard.

City Council on Tuesday gave first and second readings to a plan to upgrade the three pumps and expand Lift Station #2 at 330 Loewen Boulevard. The project would also see the installation of a sewer force main of 390 metres from Lift Station #2 to Home Street.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be $2,265,000 and would be financed with a borrowing of $2 million. The borrowing would be repaid over a five-year period with an annual payment of just over half a million dollars based on a maximum estimated annual interest rate of eight per cent. The remaining $265,000 would be funded by the City's Utility Reserve Fund. 

For taxpayers owning property located within the City's Sewer Local Improvement District, a mill rate levy of .421 would be required to finance the project. For example, during the term of the borrowing for this project, this mill rate levy would generate an annual property tax amount of $47.36 for a residential property valued at $250,000.

Councillor Jac Siemens made a motion to approve the plan. He says this is a big project that will temporarily shut down that street, but it is important that this happens.

"It's a very important project because we have a lot of housing and potential subdivisions going in on the east end of Loewen Boulevard in Steinbach," explains Siemens. "One of the reasons that they haven't been able to develop as readily as they have is because we don't have the sewer requirements for those subdivisions. This upgrade will help with that."

Siemens says this was one of Steinbach's first lift stations and is in need of an upgrade.

Councillor Michael Zwaagstra says basic infrastructure remains City Council's top priority. 

"That means that there's a lot of money that is spent on these upgrades and it's money that is well spent," he adds. "This is a lift station that needs the upgrade, needs the additional capacity."

With regards to the eight per cent interest rate, Zwaagstra stresses that is the maximum annual rate. 

"We're not expecting to have to pay eight per cent interest rate, but we need to make sure that we cover ourselves here that if interest rates go up that we don't have to have another public hearing," he points out. 

You may recall that during the night of August 17, 2022, a temporary malfunction of this lift station resulted in sewer backing up at several residences in that area. Mayor Earl Funk says the malfunction was a fluke and this planned upgrade and expansion is not a result of that incident. He stresses the necessity of this project in order to accommodate growth in that area. Funk says third reading can happen at a future council meeting.