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Canmore looking at its contract for water utility in 2019

CANMORE – After 20 years contracting the water and wastewater utilities in the Town of Canmore out to EPCOR, the municipality expects to undertake a comprehensive review of the utility's operations in 2019 to determine if it should tender the contrac
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EPCOR staff check the water pressure outside the Civic Centre in Canmore in January 2014 after the facility flooded. The Town of Canmore expects to tender out the contract for managing its municipal water and wastewater contract after 20 years with EPCOR.

CANMORE – After 20 years contracting the water and wastewater utilities in the Town of Canmore out to EPCOR, the municipality expects to undertake a comprehensive review of the utility's operations in 2019 to determine if it should tender the contract again.

Chief Administrative Officer Lisa de Soto told council during its fianance committee meetings that the community’s water and wastewater utilities are due for a new tender process.

“It is an appropriate time to have them go through that competitive process again,” she said, noting EPCOR has managed water and wastewater for 20 years, in two back-to-back 10-year contracts.

General manager of municipal infrastructure Michael Fark said administration would like to hire a consultant to assist with the review the process to move forward.

“We are looking at that and talking to other municipalities,” Fark said. “(This would be) what we feel is a very robust review.

“We are doing a thorough evaluation and when that is complete we will come back to council.”

The contract expires at the end of 2019, and requires an 18-month notice period for renegotiation, or a tender process.

“At any time we want to go out to market again we can give notice, it does not have to coincide with the renewal of the contract,” Fark said, noting Canmore has already missed that window to coincide with the end of the contract. “The contract auto-renews regardless.”

Several Alberta municipalities like Banff and Okotoks, for example, have moved away from contracting out their water and wastewater utilities, Fark noted.

“Our analysis shows at this point some potential for savings, but the margins are thin and there are risks associated with them as well,” he added. “I do not believe administration has a predisposition, but we do want to go through our due diligence.”

The 2019 operating budget for the water utility is $10.7 million, with $4.9 million in contracted services to EPCOR, $812,000 in supplies and energy costs, $1.9 million in interest payments on borrowing for utility projects, and $2.6 million transfer to reserves.

The 2019 capital budget for water services, delivered by EPCOR on behalf of the Town of Canmore, totalled $7.5 million for 13 projects ranging from a lift station replacement to design work.


Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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