Facility Assessments Hit Half Way Mark And Costs Are Climbing
Prince George, B.C. – When folks talk about infrastructure, they often think about what’s below the ground, but the City of Prince George has plenty of facilities and buildings that are considered infrastructure and many are in need of repair.
The latest assessment of the City’s buildings indicates that for the 24 properties reviewed, the City will have to spend about $21.5 million dollars over the next decade to keep them in good shape. While that may be a surprise to some, the real shocker is that the assessments have only reached the half way mark as the City owns about 50 buildings, which have a combined square footage of 1.75 million square feet.
Councillor Brian Skakun is hopeful the message will get out to the public “The public has to know what’s happening here and the kind of bills that we’re facing.” He added the City needs to communicate the costs, and needs feedback from residents “They need to understand this is a significant amount of money that we’re going to face during budget times.” To that end, the head of Communications for the City, Rob Van Adrichem says some work has already been done, starting with the Citizen budget which called upon residents to offer suggestions on how dollars should be spent when it comes to capital reinvestment. Some information was also made available during the TalkTober neighbourhood sessions held last month. “This is a project that’s going to consume our communications for some time” said Van Adrichem ” I think 1.7 million square feet is a lot to explain.” He says there will need to be a lot of education “I would be willing to bet that most people would have significant lack of understanding of the range of buildings that the City owns.”
Councillor Frank Everitt says there is a lot of square footage out there, and while some of the assets are well known to residents “There are other projects which don’t get the recognition , or are not of the same caliber but are still widely used by a lot of residents in the City. It’s a big job, it’s a lot of money, but it’s things you can’t leave. Leaving them has got us to the stage where we have a huge bill.”
Mayor Lyn Hall says the other shoe has yet to drop “The fact that we’re only half way through ( facility assessment) tells us that there’s a big dollar waiting there for us at the end of the day.” Mayor Hall says when it comes to some of the buildings, it may boil down to “Looking at the condition assessment and deciding whether or not to invest in that particular building or what we’re going to do with it.”
“Most importantly we need to set a strategic plan in place about how we educate ourselves around these condition assessments not only financially but logistically as well” says Mayor Hall “What buildings do we need to key in on for the first phase of refurbishing and recovering some of these.”