Wastewater, energy work occupy Bridgewater's mandate
Below surface sewer piping "acceptable years ago" but "rightfully unacceptable now" is a big money issue for Bridgewater as it works to meet federally-mandated wastewater rules. So said the town's mayor to local business leaders during a recent talk broadcasted on the internet. David Mitchell told Bridgewater's chamber of commerce that wastewater work isn't easy to design and install, but costs significant cash.
There are two sides from which to approach the matter, Mitchell suggested. Municipalities like Bridgewater are poised for population and business growth but can't accommodate it without a competently functioning system. Add the Energize Bridgewater project into the equation, it's also created more work paving the way for huge changes.
Since winning the federal government's $5 million Smart Cities Challenge grant in May 2019, the scope of expectations evolved. Bridgewater's expected to prototype and test its research into energy efficiency and teach what it's learned to others. "It's not just what most people thought it was years ago, which is we're just going to retrofit some houses to make them more energy efficient," Mitchell said. "There is now not just the energy efficiency of home but that of businesses, the generation of clean energy, electrification of vehicles; [it's] all of those pieces, and how do you do that in a community ..."
The Energize Bridgewater program strives to complete a transition to a clean, energy-efficient economy within 30 years, and lift 40 per cent of town residents out of so-called energy poverty, a term that means households have little money for essentials because the cost of electricity and heating.
Plea for town to maintain garden funding
Community development staff hopes Bridgewater maintains $6,500 in annual spending toward the town's community gardens program now that a significant corporate sponsor is cutting back on its contribution. Town council will consider the plea during upcoming 2021-22 budget deliberations.
The matter was raised during a recent meeting of civic politicians. A local landscaping company reached the end of a five-year, $5,000 per-year deal to help financially support the town's part-time community garden coordinators position. The company since agreed to a $2,000 per-year commitment, which will be reviewed annually. Recreation and active communities coordinator Diana Johnson told council, in a written report, "weeks of work will be reduced based on review of previous project work plans" if council chooses status quo on its financial position on the matter. The business sponsor is credited for aiding the garden program's success over the years.