Brome Lake commits to installing new water and sewer infrastructure at mobile home park

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative

After spending over a decade without a proper drinking water network and an outdated sewage system, residents of the West-Brome mobile home park are set to receive an infrastructure upgrade next summer.
The park is home to roughly 70 families. They have been forced to boil their water before consumption, or purchase bottled water, for more than 10 years. Brome Lake Mayor Richard Burcombe is relieved to finally close the chapter on this prolonged issue.
“This dossier has been going on probably for 12, 14 years. When I was elected in 2013 it was brought to the table and how can we serve these 70 trailers with a population of 140 people, who have been boiling their water for the last 10, 11 years,” said Burcombe.
In a press release last week, the town announced that it had received $3.1 million in financial assistance from the Quebec government through the Programme d’infrastructures municipales d’eau (PRIMEAU). The total cost of the construction project, however, is $3.5 million.
The funding will cover 95 per cent of the water and sewer infrastructure construction costs, which includes a new “drinking water production plant” and a “wastewater treatment plant and a sewer collection system.” The park’s owner, Richard Gauthier, will need pay $400,000.
“The Quebec government would give let’s say $500,000, I’m just using a round figure […] but for 20 years, so they would give us $500,000 and pay the interest for that year and that little bit left well the owner has to come in and pay his part,” Burcombe explained to The Record.
The funding goes against the town’s debt, he continued, but it’s not a net debt, so it won’t have an impact on taxpayers, apart from the residents living in the mobile home park. Burcombe added that the construction project will last about 15 weeks, starting in May or June.
“We have to first build a treatment centre, then we have to build, we have to install all of the pipes, and then we have a reservoir for the two wells and of course that is where the water will be treated with chlorine, if it needs to be or whatever, but that’s more technical,” he said.
The Record visited the mobile home community last Thursday. Gauthier was asked about the financial assistance, but he refused to take part in an interview. Residents were also unwilling to go on the record regarding the town’s construction announcement.
However, one resident described muddy water pouring from their faucets, and appearing in their toilet every few days. They also go through brief periods without being able to shower because the water isn’t clean. It often lasts between two or three days.
Another resident, who has been living in the mobile home park for 15 years, said boiling water has just become a normal part of their lives. The resident also noted that they’ll believe the announcement when they see shovels in the ground. Residents have been burned in the past.
In 2016, Brome Lake took over the responsibility to update the water and sewer infrastructure at the mobile home park. Gauthier was ordered to fix the problem by the government, but he refused to pay for the construction costs. The town went out in search of financial aid.
When the town first started to look into government grants, they were expecting the cost of the project to be $2.1 million. They discovered that they were eligible for a grant that would cover 70 per cent of the cost, leaving Gauthier with a bill of about $700,000.
However, that project never materialized. According to Burcombe, the government kept changing its requirements until they were finally able to put out a call for tenders this year. Now the town needs to put forward a borrowing bylaw for $3.5 million over 20 years.
It will need to be put to a vote, but Burcombe is confident that residents will be in favour of the bylaw, especially those living in the mobile home park. The new infrastructure will also increase the property value in the area, which will please many of the residents.
“They’re finally happy that now it’s going to happen because let’s say they were to try and sell their trailer, they own the trailer but they don’t own the land […] if they wanted to sell that trailer, I mean whose going to buy it with no sewer, and basically sewered water,” said Burcombe.

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