A subsidy program that the city has been running since the 1970s will be discontinued in 2021. 

City council voted unanimously to stop the privately-owned no-corrode sewer pipe service connection subsidy during budget deliberations recently. 

About 2,490 no-corrode pipes were installed by homebuilders in Moose Jaw between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s.  

Director of Public Works and Utilities Darrin Stephanson described what the pipes were made out of. 

“It's essentially best described as a coal tar-impregnated wood fiber pipe. So, more or less, it's cardboard with tar to give it some resilience to wastewater,” Stephanson said. 

No-corrode pipes were popular after the Second World War due to the shortage of metal, but Stephanson said over time they will absorb moisture and have a tendency to collapse. 

In the 1970s, the city began to subsidize the no-corrode sewer pipes at 75 per cent of the cost for replacements. The subsidy was discontinued in 1992 and re-instated retroactively in 1998. 

The city would bring in a subsidy in 2005 that would reduce by a percentage each year. The 2020 subsidy was at 32 per cent, with the subside scheduled to conclude in 2036 to align with the original timeline of the cast iron replacement project. 

“That infrastructure has lasted and I think that the city should be off the hook now. I'm not sure if the city ever should have been on the hook, but we have been,” said Coun. Heather Eby. 

The city is estimated there are about 1,800 no-corrode sewer pipe connections remaining and about 30 per cent have been replaced in the last 50 years. 

Stephanson noted that Regina, Saskatoon, Swift Current, North Battleford, and Prince Albert do not offer subsidies for no-corrode pipes. 

He added that the pipes are 100 per cent privately owned, so the subsidy program was taxpayers subsidizing private infrastructure. 

The report noted that using an average of $10,000, it would cost the city $5.171 million to replace all of the remaining pipes at once as of Dec. 31, 2019. 

The subsidy has cost the city $687,000 in the past three years. 

However, homeowners that would like to have the no-corrode connections replaced can have the cost applied to their property taxes over seven years at four per cent interest. 

 

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