Bridge commission seeks 2,000% increase to carry waterline
Dispute over use of Angus L. Macdonald Bridge
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has been called in to settle a multimillion-dollar dispute between Halifax Water and the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission.
The government agencies disagree over who should pay for a 60-centimetre waterline attached to the underside of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge spanning Halifax Harbour.
"We'd like to keep our costs as low as we possibly can and obviously the Bridge Commission would like to keep their costs as low as they possibly can," said James Campbell, a spokesman for Halifax Water.
The waterline — installed in 1971 — must be removed as part of a $200-million bridge redecking project next year.
Steve Snider, the chief executive officer and general manager of Halifax Harbour Bridges, said Halifax Water should pay the $6.5-million cost to remove and install a new waterline.
"If the Water Commission doesn't pay for it then the customers who drive the cars will have to pay for it. We just want the right customer to pay the bill," Snider told CBC News.
The Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission also wants to hike the annual fee it charges Halifax Water for using the span. The current fee is $37,500 a year and the proposed rate is $770,000 annually — a 2,000 per cent increase.
"Based on the percentage of weight the waterline contributes to the entire structure, [consultants] went through and took a look at the costs and came up with the figures that they did," said Snider.
The Water Commission argues that under an existing agreement, the cost of replacing the waterline should be split.
The waterline is a backup unit. It was used last summer to bring water from Dartmouth into Halifax when another line from its Pockwock Lake Watershed was unavailable.
Campbell said it kept Halifax off a boil water order.
"In instances like that it's very important. We need to have that redundant line in there," he said.