New Brunswick

Moncton could spend $27M on 'worst case' algae fix

Moncton's budget includes millions to deal with blue-green algae in the municipal water supply and fixes for the Coliseum and RCMP detachment roofs.

City manager says the money allows the city to plan for 'worst-case scenarios'

Gregg Houser, Moncton's acting chief financial officer, and Marc Landry, the city manager, outline the proposed 2019 budget to council Monday. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Moncton's $77.6-million capital budget sets aside millions to deal with blue-green algae in the municipal water supply.

Jack MacDonald, Moncton's general manager of engineering and environmental services, said the city will work with Dalhousie University to study whether a water purification system could be added at the treatment plant to handle the algae.

The city budgeted $6 million next year related to the algae, and it forecasts spending another $21 million in 2021.

"It's a large sum of money," MacDonald said Wednesday as staff led council through the details of the city's proposed 2019 capital and operations budgets.

City would seek funding help

Marc Landry, the city manager, said the money will allow the city to plan for "worst-case scenarios" and can be refined next year.

Any spending would be split with Dieppe and Riverview, MacDonald said. The city will also seek funding from other levels of government.

Moncton's Tower Road dam, one of two of the city's drinking water reservoirs in the Turtle Creek area. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Blue-green algae, which can be toxic when it blooms, was found in the Turtle Creek watershed two years ago. Drinking water quality has been unaffected so far.

The spending next year was one of the largest single items in the 2019 capital plan, which sets out what Moncton will spend on roads, buildings and vehicles.

The budget, beyond the basics of road repaving and water and sewer line replacements, includes $275,000 to fix a leaky roof at the Coliseum and arena complex.

The budget includes $275,000 to fix a leaky roof at the Coliseum and arena complex. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

The city plans to continue using the venue for trade shows.

The city will spend $150,000 on electrical upgrades at the Magnetic Hill concert site, which hasn't hosted a show since 2015.

Shane Porter, Moncton's manager of venues, suggested the work could help land a future show but didn't get into specifics.

The budget states the Codiac Regional RCMP detachment on Main Street, a city-owned building, needs "major repairs" to its roof as the force awaits construction of a new building.

The city plans to spend $50,000 on fixing the roof and replacing parts of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Don MacLellan, the city's general manager of community safety services, told council the police force is expected to be in a new headquarters in mid- to late 2022.

RCMP building site picked soon

Coun. Charles Leger, the chair of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority, said next month council will hear more about a proposed site for the new building budgeted to cost $46 million.

Leger said the new building is one of the largest single projects the city faces in the near future now that the Avenir Centre is complete. 

Meanwhile, council later this week will consider a motion to hire four new Codiac RCMP members next year. That's down from the five the policing authority budgeted to hire. 

The Mounties plan to grow from 139 members this year to 143 next year, 146 in 2020 and 148 in 2021. 

Addressing social issues

Coun. Blair Lawrence's motion proposes using the $100,000 that would have been spent on the fifth Mountie for a grant of $75,000 to YMCA ReConnect and $25,000 to Salvus Clinic.  

Mayor Dawn Arnold said the funds for the non-profits could help address some of the social issues such as homelessness that the city faces.

"We have some very serious in our community and we're very dedicated to finding some solutions to them," Arnold said.

The city's budget talks continue Thursday and are expected to wrap up Friday morning. A final vote on the budget is expected in December.