The District of Hope is moving forward with the first phase of its sewer expansion project in the Flood Hope area.
A request for proposals has been issued for engineering firms to design and construct a new line from the sewage treatment plant on Tom Berry Road to vacant properties around exit 168 off Highway 1. The contract will also include a needs assessment that determines the scope of future expansion. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 1, with a target completion date of fall 2012.
"The purpose is to add value to that land and make it attractive for appropriate highway commercial businesses," said town manager Earl Rowe.
"With the price of land rising in Surrey, Chilliwack and Abbotsford, many economic activities will be better placed in the serviced Flood Hope area and we have to be ready for those opportunities."
The Union of BC Municipalities has approved a $440,000 gas tax grant to help build the new line. The remainder of the $1.2-million project is expected to come from developer contributions and hook-up charges from business owners.
Rowe said some of the design issues that will need to be considered in the planning process are construction around the railway track, use of existing public easements and whether any pieces of land will need to be acquired.
The project is part of Hope's economic development plan, which has identified a gap in the community's 25 to 40 age demographic as a result of a declining mining and forestry related jobs.
"What this is all about is getting jobs," said Rowe.
"We have recreational and social infrastructure which is enormously attractive to people who might choose to move to Hope given the availability of suitable employment opportunities."
The creation of Advantage Hope this spring to market the community's economic development efforts has helped push forward the plans for physical infrastructure upgrades in the Flood Hope area.
"It's been on the books for a long time as an idea, but that doesn't do anyone any good if it's not put into action," said executive director Tyler Mattheis.
"When ideas like this languish, I think it sends the wrong message. But when we have these ideas and act upon them and we move forward, it creates a momentum that will go outside this opportunity to things that we can't even anticipate at this time."
He estimates commercial development of the vacant properties will create up to 100 jobs in a range of wages and skills levels. The long-term goal of Advantage Hope is to have some of the agricultural land west of exit 168 excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve for further commercial development.