A Charlottetown city councillor says the federal government has given the City of Charlottetown an answer to its multimillion-dollar request to help fix its sewage problem, but nobody is saying what that answer is.
Coun. Cecil Villard, who is chair of the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, is coy about how much Ottawa is willing to provide to help the city.
"We're close. I'm very confident we'll have some positive comments to make in the near future," Villard told CBC News on Monday night.
The city is facing a $24-million repair to its sewage system in order to prevent overflows into the harbour. Part of the sanitary sewer system is combined with the storm sewer in the city. The treatment plant can't handle the volume in heavy rain, dumping untreated sewage into the harbour.
The problem leads to regular shutdowns of the shellfishery in the harbour, and the provincial public health office has recommended warning signs be posted for swimmers following heavy rains.
The city is committed to paying for a share of the cost of fixing the problem, as is the province. Ottawa has been the holdout, but Villard said he's not ready to discuss Ottawa's answer in public.
"This is a very costly initiative, and I do want to make sure that members of council are fully aware of all the details," said Villard.
"I have more than one option that I want to present."
Even Coun. Eddie Rice, chair of the city's water and sewer committee, said he doesn't know yet if Ottawa is on board, but he is not optimistic about the news Villard is carrying from Ottawa.
"I don't think our harbour is a big issue for them. But just call me a country bumpkin. I don't know any better," said Rice.
Villard said he'll discuss the various options with his fellow politicians within the next 10 days at a closed-door meeting. He hopes to make a public statement on the matter before the March public meeting of council.