Grant application for bridges gets go-ahead from Battleford council

The Town of Battleford discussed making an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program grant application for the north portion of the old Battleford bridge at their meeting Monday night.

Director of Finance David Gillan explained the situation at the bridges. The north portion of the bridge was shut down in July based on an engineer’s report that indicated the bridge was in bad shape. The report rated the bridge at a low score of 2.3 and the recommendation from the engineers was to bring it back up to a 5. The south portion is in slightly better shape and is still open.

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Should it proceed, the total cost of rehabilitating the bridges is estimated at $5.6 million. Gillan indicated the capital spend for the north bridge would be $2.9 million, with a 10-year maintenance plan to maintain the bridges costing $600,000. For the south span it is $1.3 million with a 10-year maintenance plan costing $470,000.

The hope is to get the ICIP grant for both the north and south span and bring them both back up to a “5” rating. Gillan said they are applying for the capital works grant for both bridges, which meets the grant’s designation for a walking and a bicycling bridge.

For capital funding, the hope is they will receive $3.3 million, or 75 percent, with the town to be on the hook for the other $1.2 million. The town would also be on the hook for the remaining maintenance portion of $1.1 million, for a total town investment of $2.3 million.

Assuming the grant is approved, engineering would begin this year, said Gillan. The town would be looking at a $1.4 million expense in 2021 and then from 2022-30 the town’s cost would range from about $200,000 a year down to as little as $40,000.

As for how it would be funded by the town, there are reserves the town can access. If unsuccessful in their grant application, the town “may have to reconsider the feasibility of maintaining both bridges,” said Gillan.

In general, council was supportive of the application and expressed support to find a way to keep the bridges. The motion to make the grant application was carried at council Monday.

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