Cowansville budget prioritizes water treatment plant, lake

By Ruby Irene Pratka – Local Journalism Initiative

Cowansville mayor Sylvie Beauregard presented the town’s 2022 budget and three-year infrastructure plan at a virtual news conference on January 17.

Beauregard and city treasurer Josée Tassé explained that the ongoing development boom in the region (particularly in the multi-unit housing sector), the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the need to improve services to residents and several ongoing infrastructure projects, including the municipal garage scheduled for completion this year and the new primary school scheduled to open in September 2023, were the main priorities that informed the composition of this year’s balanced budget, which totals $28.3 million.

She also announced plans to invest in the long-term conservation of Lac Davignon through an annual fund. “Lac Davignon is considered an essential resource for all citizens; it’s our source of drinking water and also serves as a significant recreation centre for the whole region. It is [facing] issues linked to exotic invasive species, sediment control, water quality and the protection of its banks; we must act and invest to keep it healthy.”

Consequently, the city will earmark $100,000 from its otherwise unallocated surplus funds to create a reserved fund for the protection of the lake. The money will be used to “finance studies, develop plans and take concrete action for the management, protection and preservation of Lac Davignon,” and a future bylaw is expected to make it possible for the city to top up the fund annually.

No property tax increases
Although property values have risen over the past year – by 2.21 per cent on an average home and by 9.8 per cent on an average mutli-unit residential property – property taxes will remain frozen for all categories of property in 2022.

Residential water, water treatment and waste removal fees will rise slightly (by $5 each) resulting in a total increase of $15 on the average residential tax bill, explained Tassé.

Water and water treatment fees for businesses will also be slightly increased, by one cent and three cents per cubic metre respectively.

“We’re pleased with our budget because we were able to maintain a certain stability for citizens,” said Beauregard. “People are already dealing with the rise in the cost of living, the cost of groceries and other services, so we arranged things to give people a bit of breathing room as far as their tax bills are concerned.”

Water treatment plant at top of infrastructure list

The city has allocated just under $13.7 million for infrastructure investments in 2022. The largest single investment is for a major overhaul of the city’s water treatment plant ($6.5 million). “The plant dates from 1986 and [needs to undergo] major updates to the technology, equipment and disinfection systems,” said director general Claude Lalonde. “Ultraviolet treatment will also be added before the water is released into the Yamaska River.” The water filtration plant will undergo an overhaul of its own in 2023-2024 including the replacement of the filtration systems.

Routine road maintenance ($2.08 million) and the construction of a road leading to the future primary school site ($1.7 million) are the next most costly items. The city also plans to invest in plans and estimates for the modernization of its aquatic centre, renovate the pools in Parc Davignon, renovate the skate park and aquatic equipment rental facility at the nature centre, and make repairs to sidewalks. The Parc naturel Jacques-Bonnette will also be expanded in 2022 through the purchase of 11.5 hectares of land by the city.

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