Cow Bay Road storm sewer upgrade could cost $6.3M

A long-awaited sewer upgrade that would fix a flooding problem in Eastern Passage could cost nearly $2 million higher than first expected.

Halifax Regional Municipality faced with much higher bill to fix persistent flooding problem

Jim MacDonald had a big problem with flooding in 2011. This photo shows the damage in his home. (courtesy of Jim MacDonald)

A long-awaited storm sewer upgrade that would fix a flooding problem in Eastern Passage could cost nearly $2 million higher than first expected.

Last September, city officials budgeted $4.4 million for a deep storm sewer for Cow Bay Road. That was raised to $4.8 million when a contingency was added.

But the winning bid by Dexter Construction is $6.3 million.

Now it’s up to the audit and finance standing committee to make a recommendation on what happens next.

Jim MacDonald, who owns a home on Cow Bay Road, says it’s finally time to get the job done, even if the municipality has to pay more.

He says HRM only has itself to blame for not charging developers for sewer upgrades as new homes were built.

“It needs to be done. It should’ve been done. And every year that you wait a little bit longer, the price goes up about 10 per cent,” MacDonald told CBC News.

MacDonald’s home has flooded three times since 2006. The last flood in 2011 forced him to tear up walls and replace some electrical wiring and flooring.

That year, he bought a new sump pump, which pumps water out of his house and through a pipe to a storm drain outside.

He says the flooding problems are so bad that the value of his property dropped by $50,000. He also says some people in the neighbourhood are unable to get backwater flood insurance.

“You’ll find most of the people who live along here either have a very high insurance rate for flooding or they can’t get it at all,” he said.

MacDonald says the municipality asked the homeowners to pay about $15,000 over 20 years to help cover the costs of a new storm sewer, but they refused.

The current plan calls for taxpayers to pick up the whole tab. Two-thirds would be paid by the municipality, while Halifax Water would cover the remaining one-third.

The audit and finance standing committee will vote on a staff recommendation to push the matter to regional council and dip into an operating fund for the extra money.

Staff say the newer estimate is higher because the original budget didn’t consider costs related to acidic rock and other factors.

Regardless, MacDonald hopes the project moves ahead and the problems in his neighbourhood are fixed.