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Didsbury's capital budget includes nearly $1 million for AG Foods building

Sidewalks, stormwater main extension also in $3.2 million plan

DIDSBURY - After a couple of months of open houses, discussions and meetings, council has passed the 2020 capital budget for the Town of Didsbury.

The capital budget is generally anything that lasts more than a year and could be land, buildings, roadways or vehicles.

Municipalities must have both a capital and an operating budget each year. The operating budget is day-to-day costs to operate the town and provide programs and services.

The grand total for the capital budget for 2020 is $3,232,500. Assets/projects include: 15th Avenue stormwater main extension ($1,070,000); AG Foods building acquisition ($990,000); Pedestrian sidewalk connectivity (Shantz - $150,000, Memorial Park/Tim Hortons - $74,000, and Didsbury High School - $206,000); and east reservoir (land acquisition - $200,000; design phase $150,000).

Mayor Rhonda Hunter said she thought the town's capital budget was very good.

"There is so much that people have been waiting for and that is that connectivity to the north side of (Highway) 582," said Hunter. "I've heard that question how are we going to get to the Shantz area? How are we going to get to Buy-Low store?

“For years our citizens have been crossing over 582 to get to the ball diamonds and the pathway over there. There will be connectivity there; a marked sidewalk and some crossing lights. Same as over at Shantz."

Hunter said that the sidewalk connectivity will make crossing the highway much safer for all residents.

Estimated project start and completion dates (all for 2020) are: east reservoir land acquisition and project design, July to December; Pedestrian connectivity - Shantz, June to August, Memorial Park/Tim Hortons, July to November, and Didsbury High, June to August; and 15th Avenue Stormwater - August to September.

Also on the capital budget is the Didsbury Memorial Complex - multi-purpose room (MPR) and lobby roof replacement at $150,000.

That project is expected to start in May and wrap up in July.

According to the information given to council, the MPR roof is seeing significant drainage issues, leaks and slope problems. Additionally, the lobby roof is also experiencing leaks and drainage issues.

The MPR-lobby roof is the last of the four roofs at the complex to need upgrading/repairing/replacing. The pool roof was done in 2014, the curling rink roof in 2018 and the arena roof in 2019.

Regarding the east reservoir project, Hunter said that's been identified for a long time.

The background information states that the town's infrastructure study identified the necessity for an additional water distribution reservoir to be located on the southeastern part of town.

"The town needs to purchase the land, get the design phase started," she said. "The project is to get started in 2021-2022 at this point. It's a $4.4-million project cost at this point. That's why they put in the debenture payments that will come in the future."

The information stated that if no grant is received for the project, it would be financed and the cost would be added to the operating budget for water.

The impact of a 25-year loan for $4.4 million at 2.706 per cent is approximately $122,000 per year.

Council will be looking at passing the 2020 operating budget in March. The mill rate will be set shortly after.

Hunter said council is committed to waiting until the provincial budget comes out (Feb. 27) before approving the operating budget.

"We don't know what kind of impact that'll have," she said. "We just don't. Before we set those kind of budgets we want to know how that is going to impact us."

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