By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Wasting no time, the District of Invermere plans to press ahead with the next phase of sewer and water upgrades on 13th Avenue this coming summer.

The first phase of upgrades on 13th Avenue constituted one of the bigger infrastructure projects undertaken by the district in recent years. The bulk of the phase one work took place earlier this fall (with some finish touches still to come this spring) and set a good many local residents to grumbling as the project entailed the complete closure of 13th Avenue, a main thoroughfare, for the better part of two months, rerouting all vehicles on a detour along 15th Avenue, and in the process created major traffic bottlenecks during school drop-off and pickup times.

Despite the inconvenience, phase one needed go ahead without delay as the sewer system along that part of 13th Avenue was in dire need of immediate repairs. With that work now mostly done, the district is keen to push forward with the next stage, and is putting out a request-for-proposals for phase two of the project.

“Hopefully phase two will not be as disruptive (as phase one),” said Invermere Chief Administrative Officer, Andrew Young, during a recent Invermere council meeting, adding that the request-for-proposals outlines strict timelines specifically meant to keep the work from creating similar traffic bottlenecks as in phase one, and contains penalties for failing to stay within those timelines.

“Our target is to make sure the work is completed in July and August,” said Young. “Overlapping with the school year would be quite disruptive.”

In the meantime, as many residents may have already noticed, sewer system upgrades have been underway on 14th Street, between Mount Nelson Athletic Park (MNAP) and the Pineridge subdivision. The work closed 14th Street to all traffic, and all vehicles heading to Pineridge needed to detour instead east and south of David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS), past the Groundswell Network Society’s community greenhouse and through the Westridge subdivision.

“There’s a new sewer line going in to connect Pineridge with a more direct line into the rest of our infrastructure,” Invermere mayor, Al Miller, told the Pioneer. “The line was proposed years ago and this infrastructure was a must do. It is serious and needed to happen now, just like phase one on 13th Avenue. Pineridge had pretty much maxed out their existing sewer line.”

Miller emphasized that it is the Pineridge developers, not Invermere taxpayers, who are bearing the cost of the new sewer line on 14th Street.

When Pineridge was first developed, more than a decade ago, the developers had put in a temporary line, to help get the development started, explained Miller, adding the plan was always for the developers to put in a better, permanent line later on. Unfortunately the development stalled for many years after the economic recession of 2007-2009 brought Invermere’s then red-hot housing market screeching to standstill, with the end result that the temporary sewer line was left in place far long than initially intended. With the housing market finally springing back to life, as the COVID-19 pandemic brings a flood of new residents to Invermere, development has again picked up in Pineridge.

“So we pushed for them to get this new line up and running,” said Miller. “We can’t delay anymore, not at all.”