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Municipal services cleared for Breslau core

The upcoming reconstruction of Woolwich Street will see 25 properties in old Breslau connected to municipal water and sewer at an initial cost of $11,200 apiece.

Unlike past attempts to extend services, the township this time around garnered the support of more than half the property owners. That’s likely due to a much-lower cost to residents than in previous proposals – a 2010 attempt, for instance, called for each benefitting property owner to pay $92,000 for the extension of water and sewer lines.

Despite objections voiced at Tuesday night’s meeting, councillors approved the plan, pointing to the benefits at a lower cost.

Helping reduce the burden on residents this time is the fact the extension of water services is being paid for by developers, as a loop must be completed as part of the work in a neighbouring new subdivision. As well, the township will cover 42 per cent of the total cost of the sanitary sewers, hoping to encourage commercial development and the establishment of a downtown core for Breslau.

The properties in question are on Woolwich Street South, between Hopewell Creek bridge and Dolman Street; and on Dolman Street, between Woolwich and Joseph streets.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley says there is greater redevelopment potential for fully serviced lots than for those relying on private wells and septic systems.

At a total cost of $483,000 for the sanitary sewers, the cost to benefitting residents drops to $280,140 once the township’s 42 per cent portion is subtracted. Divided by 25, the cost per property comes to $11,200. Each of the property owners would have to pay for the laterals to connect to the sanitary sewer, as well as any additional costs such as the decommissioning of wells and septic tanks.

Those extra costs didn’t sit well with Breslau resident Mark Schmidt, who argued  the $11,200 cost cited by the township is only a fraction of the actual expense. Adding in the cost to connect, decommission a septic system and well and the like brings the total cost to more than $40,000, plus monthly bills in perpetuity.

In attempting to convince residents to go along with the scheme, township officials failed to spell out all the costs before surveying the public, he added.

In his case, municipal services provide no benefit, as his newer septic system and well are in good working order.

“This is something I don’t have to do now. “I don’t want to prevent people who need it from getting service, but I don’t want to pay for anything I don’t need.”

Under Woolwich’s plan, however, every property owner will be forced to pay. But Kennaley assured residents they wouldn’t have to hook up to either water or sewer if they don’t want to, thus avoiding the other costs for the time being at least.

Others such as Graham Carslake, owner of the Dolman Street plaza, are eager to see the project go ahead.

Given the aging septic system and the chance to gain some parking spots if it were replaced, a sewer connection would be a boon, said Carslake. As well, having the plaza on full services would increase the pool of possible tenants, and allow for greater development potential of the adjacent properties.

In supporting the plan, Coun. Mark Bauman argued this is the best opportunity for the 25 property owners to get services at a low price.

“It would be foolish of us not to take it on,” he said, noting now is the time to put the services underground as it could be another 40 or 50 years before that road had to be reconstructed.

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