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Virtual open houses underway for Selkirk’s spring water construction projects

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Virtual open houses are a creative solution for residents of Selkirk, Manitoba, to get a socially-distanced glimpse of the nearly $3-million worth of water construction projects on tap for 2020.

This year, the capital asset project presentations, which the public would typically see in person on the cusp of spring construction, primarily involve sewer and water pipe relining to economically extend the life of the pipes.

“We wanted to pay attention to the province’s orders for social distancing and our concern of course is for everyone’s health and safety, so holding an open house was not in anyone’s best interests,” Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson said in an official statement.

Despite the open house safeguards, Manitoba recently became one of the first provinces in Canada to implement a phased reopening plan under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Breakdowns

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Selkirk Chief Administrative Officer, Duane Nicol said that there will likely be nine capital asset projects for 2020, including sewer replacement, land drainage installation, water main liner, and sewer liner construction. Nicol said the new investments will be focused around “preparing our systems to support the growth we’ve seen over the past five years.” The city broke the 10,000 residents mark in 2016, a feat the mayor described as “dynamite”.

  • Manchester Avenue
    • Land drainage, water liner, wastewater and road repairs – $855,778
  • Main Street
    • Sewer reline and water lines – $416,645
  • Selkirk’s West End
    • Sewer lines – $1,600,000

Selkirk Director of Operations, Dan McDermid indicated that the “very poor” condition of the city’s Manchester sewer was the “driving force” of this season’s water upgrades. The sewer is currently at a five rating, McDermid said, which means it’s the city’s asset closest to failure.

McDermid also added that the city has a long-term plan to separate all combined sewers, which can cause basement flooding during high rainfall events. The plan will also provide some relief to the city’s wastewater system and lower the potential for sewage to be dumped into the Red River, he said.

Nicol noted that the sewer work is aligned with the city’s award-winning climate change adaptation plan to prepare for more frequent and more intense rain events.

“We’ve had a sewer separation plan for almost two decades now and had made a bit, but not lots of progress,” Nicol told media in an update. “Fulfilling a tactic in our climate change adaptation strategy, we amended our asset risk policy so now projects that separate sewers are getting a higher priority. Plus, with asset management, we’re aligning this work with other needed works in the same area and getting better bang for our infrastructure dollar,” he added.

Lastly, a section of Selkirk’s Main Street has a four-inch cast iron water main from 1908 that, besides being beyond its useful life, is simply too small to provide adequate pressure for fire protection. Not only would it affect local businesses and residents off Main Street, but if it were to break in front of Daerwood School, “that’s something we definitely want to avoid,” said McDermid.

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