Paradise’s tide of growth tied to water availability

By Craig Westcott   |   The Shoreline

In what appears to be a case of you really have to build it in order for more people to come, the Town of Paradise has placed a $9 million water tower at the head of a list of capital works projects it is submitting to the provincial and federal governments for funding. All told the list of capital works projects weighs in at some $48 million.

“Over the years I’ve been referring to this as our Christmas wish list,” said councillor Deborah Quilty, who chairs the town’s infrastructure and public works committee.

The other projects on the list, Quilty said, include $4.6 million worth of water and sewer installations on Stephens Road, Neary Road, Windmill Road, Bayview Heights and Moonlight Drive; a $2.7 million upgrade of Paradise Road from Archibald Drive to St. Thomas Line; $4.5 million for an indoor turf facility; nearly $3.2 million for the widening of St. Thomas Line from Ridgewood Drive to a new roundabout; $42.8 million in lift station upgrades; $13.6 million for upgrades to Evergreen Village; and $7.4 million for the upgrading of Topsail Road from Paradise Road to the overpass.

“There are some big, hefty numbers there,” Quilty allowed, after she cited the projects at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“Those are in a priority list as you read them out,” Mayor Dan Bobbett pointed out.

Referring to the list later in the meeting, councillor Stirling Willis emphasized how important the proposed water tower for Neils Pond Ridge is to the town’s plans for growth.

Willis said the water reservoir is the number one priority.

“The town is growing so big as we all know, the water supply that we have now on Camrose Drive is not sufficient for the developments that are going ahead for the future development of the town,” Willis said.

Willis explained the need for more water will become more important as the town sees more development of land above the 160-metre contour of elevation, which will entail pumping more water uphill to supply users. “With this new reservoir, we would be able to address water issues at the higher levels,” he said.

Mayor Bobbett noted the maximum height at which development can occur in Paradise now is 160 metres above sea level. “With the new water tower, we can get up to 195 (metres),” he added.

Willis said the town needs such a tower not only for residential water supply, but also to maintain fire protection services. He urged council not to be remiss in making it the number one priority for capital works funding applictions. “Sometimes we do have places in town (now) that do witness low water pressure,” Willis said. “This (proposed) reservoir will eliminate all those issues that we have now.”

At that, Mayor Bobbett was quick to clarify there is no issue currently with the water pressure in the community. “We’re meeting the acceptable limits for fire protection at this moment,” he said.
But future growth – whether industrial, commercial or residential – is another matter, the mayor conceded. “We’ve got some 380 infill lots that will not go ahead if we don’t approve this going forward,” he said. “We’re looking at the entire town as a whole when we look at this… We have landmass for growth throughout the town… But we’ve still got to look at those (contour) levels. This piece of infrastructure will give us the ability to develop up to the 195 contour.”

After the meeting, Bobbett said the amount of the $9 million project that the town will have to fund, if the provincial and federal governments approve the application, will depend on whatever funding arrangement is in place at the time.

Neils Pond Ridge is the same vicinity where the town’s first junior high school is proposed for construction, he added. “Right now, to install the school up there, they’ll probably have to put in booster pumps, like Elizabeth Park Elementary did to get the proper pressure,” Bobbett said.

The last development the Town approved at the 160-contour, Bobbett added, was the seven-building retail plaza being constructed near the Town Hall.

“For future growth of the town this (water tower) is needed,” Bobbett said. “It’s deemed by all of council that this is the number one priority that we will request money for and we’re looking at approximately $9 million right now, and that’s an estimate for the water tower only.”

Bobbett conceded the price is steep. “But again, you’re talking about future growth for the entire Town of Paradise for the next 25 years or more,” he said.

The town’s chief administrative officer, Lisa Niblock, is currently talking with officials with the St. John’s Regional Water Authority to see who will take on the responsibility of maintaining the tower once it is built.

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