After drawing ire from some members of the community about the Downtown Revitalization Project, the City of Estevan is setting the record straight. 

"Well, this project that we're getting transitional funding for in this particular case is only for the downtown revitalization. We do not have the opportunity to take that 8 million and say 'we want to do something else with it'. It's only for this particular two blocks; the one phase downtown, the first phase. We have not said that we're going to do anymore phases," said Mayor Roy Ludwig. 

Last Monday, the city council has accepted the additional $7.75 million in federal funding towards the project. An additional $1.5 million will be set aside to address an underlying problem underneath the pavement of 4th Street. 

"The water and sewer [lines] in that area run on top of each other, which is not acceptable in today's standards. That will give us the opportunity, not only because they're aged and have to be replaced, but we can then do it according to the regulations of the day and do it better. As you can imagine, the sewer should probably not be running on top of the water or vice versa. They should be separate and distinct." 

City Manager Jeff Ward noted that a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) has been set up alongside the firm Associated Engineering to determine the speed and the contractors required to finish the project. 

"Now based on those submissions, that depends on the the speed and scope of the project. So from all indications from what we've seen, we could complete all the work this year, not only the underground water and sanitary systems, but also the surface work. We feel [they] can be completed in the one construction year with an appropriate contractor."

"We only have one construction season. We have to make do with what we what we have. From all of our indications, [it] sounds like we should be able to complete that work this year." -City Manager Jeff Ward on the timeline and completion of the project. 

Questions were raised about the true cost of the project. Mayor Ludwig stressed that the full estimated $33 million projected for all phases will not be realized at this time. 

"Anything other than the $8.5 million for this project, we're not even discussing. It's in the future. You know, that'll be up to the new Council if they move forward and if they even get any extra funding. That we don't know. All we're focused on is doing this one project downtown, the two blocks with the federal commitment of $8.5 million, and that includes everything you know that's been spent on the engineering to date," Ludwig added. 

When pressed about the possibility of tax hikes after the project kicks off, the mayor had a simple, yet blunt, answer. 

"The simple answer is no. We've paid our debt down from some 45 million [down] to around 10 [million]. This particular year, we may not pay debt down and we'll use that as an extra cushion if there are any issues that may come up. But, we are not looking at tax Increases from this project." 

On the topic of utility price increases, City Manager Jeff Ward clarified that the project will have no effect since the 2024 Budget had already been passed. 

"We're very positive about this project. Anytime we can progress the community and get things done, in this case [the] needed infrastructure, the beautification of the two blocks downtown, we look at that as a Council as a positive. It's a good opportunity and we're moving forward on that. We do respect the people that have different opinions from us, that's called democracy. But we as a Council are looking at this as a very positive thing for the city of Estevan and we'll continue to move forward on it on on with that attitude," said Ludwig. 

"If we can use some federal funding from a program to the betterment of our downtown, I think it's imperative that we continue to work with [the federal government] and move forward with this project. I understand concerns, but there are no property tax increase related to this project, no utility billing and funding from the federal government. I think it's a great way for us then to move forward," Ward added. 

Construction of Phase 1 of the Downtown Revitalization Project will start around spring.