le Vendredi 1 juillet 2022
le Jeudi 23 juin 2022 10:50 Vision (Clarence-Rockland)

Major gaps apparent in Clarence-Rockland infrastructure

Des dégâts importants se trouvent sur rue Baseline près de la rue St. Jean.  — Photo Joseph Coppolino
Des dégâts importants se trouvent sur rue Baseline près de la rue St. Jean.
Photo Joseph Coppolino
An asset management plan report presented to Clarence-Rockland city council paints an unfavourable picture of funding gaps impacting the quality of the city’s core services.

The Asset Management Plan (AMP) is an accounting of the city’s core services, such as water, stormwater management, sewage and transportation infrastructure. The AMP analyzes investments made and funding required for upkeep of the related infrastructure and community satisfaction with the delivery of those core services over the next two decades. 

Overall, Clarence-Rockland’s core assets are estimated to be midway through their lifecycle. However, according to the AMP, approximately one quarter of city assets is “near or beyond its end of life.” On average, the condition of the city’s infrastructure is considered fair, which means there are signs of deterioration and some deficiencies that require attention.  

“I think it’s a wakeup call for everyone”, said Councilor André J. Lalonde, reacting to the blunt numbers in the report. 

Despite the city’s continued growth, over the last five years spending on the more than 250-kilometre road network has declined year-over-year. Based on historical averages, the plan forecasts the city will need to spend just under $6.5 million annually on its roads. The 2022 city budget, however, allocates $6 million to the roads, representing nearly a $500,000 funding gap. 

Roads, both paved and gravel, are in particular turmoil, according to the plan. While the condition of the roads is rated as fair, only 22 per cent of residents were satisfied with the city’s maintenance efforts.  

Paved roads are reaching the end of their 25-year life cycle, with nearly a third of collectors and local roads having passed 80 per cent of their usable life. 

“We have made tremendous improvements, but we aren’t able to keep up with the roads”, said Lalonde. “There has been seven, ten, fifteen years of underinvestment. It’s as simple as that.” 

Roads are not the only concern. Stormwater and wastewater infrastructure is considered to be in “very poor” and “poor” condition, respectively. Investments in these assets is critical as the city’s population and businesses continue to grow, and as the frequency of five-year and 100-year weather events increases. 

Historically, Clarence-Rockland has spent an average of $12 million annually over the past 5 years on its core services, in addition to $4.3 million in renewal and enhancement expenditures. The forecasted amount in the AMP puts the annual cost of renewal and enhancement at more than $6.5 million annually. 

 

It’s like turning around a cruise ship, it’s going to take time, but we will get there.” 

— said Mr Lalonde.

The report indicates funding for roads must increase significantly to curtail their declining condition. One option considered is increasing the one per cent tax levy allocated to roads along with other sources of funding. 

The city is set to present a revised 10-year plan for paved roads later this year. By July 2024 the municipality is also to provide a more comprehensive asset management plan to include buildings, fleet vehicles, and equipment in addition to transportation, wastewater, stormwater and water services.