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October 27, 2017 6:54 pm

Weekend Event Puts Infrastructure Upgrades in Spotlight

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 @ 5:59 AM

The entire entrance and parking area at the Rose Bud Motel was submerged following Saturday’s issue-photo250News

Prince George, B.C.-The water line  breaks  in Prince George on the  weekend has underscored  the  issues with  the aging infrastructure in the City.

On Saturday, numerous properties  on the east side of  the Hart Highway between Kenworth Road and  Shady Lane, were surrounded by water  when  there was a problem  with a fire hydrant.  Later that same day,  crews responded to  15th and  Hemlock to  deal with  another water main issue.

Upgrading  of water and sewer lines is a priority for the City  says  Mayor Lyn Hall, “Crews  are working diligently to get caught up  on this.  We know the areas where we have work to be done. There is some back log there and we will get to it.  Things are getting  better weather wise, so I  know crews will be out.”

Although  the  Public Works Department has a plan   for   upgrades that  need to be done,  in conjunction with  road rehabilitation  projects,   the Mayor says  incidents  like the Hart  break on the weekend are bound to happen “These are unintended things that occur, and we just have to deal with them.”

One of the workers at the scene on the weekend noted that part of the problem this winter has been the  lower than normal snowfall ” We need snow” says Mayor Lyn Hall “As much as we like the fact  that  we  don’t  have  as much snow as we used to and we’re saving dollars in our snow clearing  budget, we need it.  We need it for water reservoirs,  we need it for  rivers,  we  need it for the water table.  He’s ( worker) absolutely right,  snow provides insulation for our below ground infrastructure.”  The Mayor says  the weather swings from  minus 30 to  plus 11,  also put pressure  on the system  “Not only does it raise  havoc with the roads,   and you see potholes and heaving,  it impacts our below ground infrastructure.”

Still, there’s lots of work  to do  “We’ve been talking about this as a Council for the last year or more” says Mayor Hall  who says more  discussion  on the issue  is just around the corner “You’re going to see it  in the next couple of weeks when Council discusses the Four Seasons pool  and Fire Hall  number one, and below ground infrastructure as well.”

The good news is,  the water and sewer line upgrades are self funding.  Both  utilities  have  enough in reserve to  pay for the necessary repairs and upgrades as needed.   That’s  an important  thing to know says Mayor Hall, especially when the City  will soon be  looking at  two major infrastructure projects  that will cost an estimated $50 million dollars. “Really, there is no competition for funding dollars.  We are fully funded on the water- sewer side,   and  so it doesn’t compete with  what we’re putting out there for Fire Hall 1 and the Four Seasons.”

The  replacement of the Fire Hall and  the Four Seasons poll would need to be funded by debt.  Both  will need  approval from the electorate because of the length of the  term of the loan.  Rather than  go the route of an alternate approval process  (which requires 10% of the eligible electorate to  petition  against the borrowing)  Council seems to be  leaning towards a referendum.


I wish the City would just go ahead with the alternate approval process. If we go to a referendum are people going to vote in favour of borrowing funds. Probably not. But does that fix the fire hall or the 4 seasons……NO of course not. They will continue to be buildings that need an upgrade or new building.

According to an older post, the CN Centre is now paid off and I believe the Aquatic centre is as well. Why don’t we just get on with it and get the work started. All that a referendum does is waste $100K and delay the inevitable.

    the alternative process almost guarantees them the money and permission to do whatever they like..
    I would prefer the referendum thank you

    A referendum gives us taxpayers a voice and whether city council likes or dislikes the outcome of a referendum it lets them know that we are keeping them in check and not going to spend our tax money willy nilly

Keep in mind that if the requisite number of signatures (roughly 5500) are obtained through the alternative approval process the City would then be forced to go to a referendum or abandon the projects. So in effect you could have the APP, and then a referendum, so you might as well go directly to a referendum.

Borrowing $50 million dollars over a 20 year period along with the $30 Million in interest is lot of money, and taxpayers have the right to vote on whether or not they want to accumulate this kind of debt.

Going to a referendum would also give the City an opportunity to show us how they can get money from other sources(internally) and from other levels of Government to help pay for these facilities.

A referendum is the proper way to go.

If they decide to base a referendum question in an all-or-nothing fashion, then my answer will be no. I’m not voting for an increase in my tax load for a swimming pool.

The Provincial government had no problem running up cost overruns on a roof for Vancouver’s stadium, overruns on bridges for Vancouver, and overruns for Vancouver’s roads and then distributing those costs to everyone else in this province. They can damn well pay for a swimming pool and fire hall replacement in this city and distribute the cost of paying for them, province-wide, like they do for Vancouver infrastructure.

‘…Infrastructure refers to structures, systems, and facilities serving the economy of a business, industry, country, city, town, or area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function…’
New swimming pools are not infrastructure, but miles of sewer and water lines that need re-lining are.

From the Federal Government: Another $133 million is being allocated to groups helping developing countries tackle climate change. The government is earmarking another $174 million for humanitarian aid to help populations hit by the impacts of El Nino…’
Spending my money overseas to fight Mother nature is a scam big time. At least I can use a swimming pool.


    Urban infrastructure:

    Urban or municipal infrastructure refers to hard infrastructure systems generally owned and operated by municipalities, such as streets, water distribution, and sewers. It may also include some of the facilities associated with soft infrastructure, such as parks, public pools, schools, hospitals and libraries. From 2016, EPFL, one of the top universities in the world, is offering an open online course on Management of Urban Infrastructures[13] which covers the main characteristics of urban infrastructures and basic principles of urban infrastructure management.

I am starting to agree with the idea of a referendum more and more.

The reason I have for that is that in my humble opinion the City rarely brings a good case to the public for spending.

A good case would be one where they VERY clearly spell out the current conditions of the facilities to be replaced or lack of facilities if there are none and the conditions of the new facilities.

That includes the quality of service benefits to the community, the cost of maintenance if the facilities are to be kept, the likely future costs if they will be replaced 5, 10, 15 years down the road, and the NET cost of financing once expected inflation is taken in consideration.

I challenge the City to take a run at such a presentation and p[ass the format by the electorate to see whether the information is adequate for them to make an informed decision.

Look……They put a pool on the Hart!!!!

At this point I think I could be persuaded to vote for the new fire hall, but not the new pool.

My family uses the pool a couple of times a week and a new pool would be great, but I don’t think its the kind of thing one borrows money for. I see nothing wrong with Four Seasons and don’t buy the argument that it is past its useful life. I think Four Seasons easy has 15-years left in its life span and planning for that time frame with a contingency fund built up over the years eliminating the interest risk is the way to go. Maybe build two smaller pools spaced ten years apart.

As for infrastructure… the city has so many other priorities. For example Pacific way out the Danson Industrial site is atrocious. It was only paved two years ago and is already falling apart because it has no ditches for the water to go into, and no working culverts, so the water just runs down the road and keeps the surface under the road perpetually soaked. Just future costs piling up like their 6-month over budget bridge repair on the Willow Cale that cost the city a couple of million because maintenance was non existent.

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