Hard choices and a big bill in Penticton’s future

Penticton is facing a $175 million problem with aging city infrastrucure.

This major water main break in Feb. 2015 is indicative of problems with Penticton's infrastructure

This major water main break in Feb. 2015 is indicative of problems with Penticton's infrastructure

The City of Penticton has some tough choices coming up, according to a report by city staff coming to council’s regular meeting on Oct. 4.

Earlier this year, staff advised council that $30 million would be needed over the next decade to repair and maintaining Penticton facilities, like Memorial Arena. But according to the report by interim CAO Mitch Moroziuk, the overall picture is much worse.

“The city needs to spend up to $175M to address infrastructure deficits and to ensure funding to maintain assets,” wrote Moroziuk, noting that this encompasses facilities, utilities and other city infrastructure, including:

 

  • 237 km of water pipe; a water treatment plant; 8 water reservoirs
  • 174 km of sewer pipe; a sewage treatment plant; 7 sewage pumping stations
  • 359 km of electrical cable; 4 substations; almost 4,000 electrical poles
  • 88 km of storm sewer pipe
  • 184 km of roads; 24 bridge structures; 143 km of sidewalks and 32 traffic lights
  • City Hall; 2 fire halls; 4 arenas; the RCMP building; the soccer bubble as well as 42 smaller buildings.
  • 67 parks with playgrounds, pavilions and art; 12 sporting fields and more than 270 vehicles and pieces of special equipment used to keep the city operating and provide fire protection.

 

Some of these assets, Moroziuk said, are operating beyond or approaching end-of-life and need to be upgraded or replaced.

Asset failures are increasing in frequency. One example from February 2015 was the severe water main break at Main St. and Wade Avenue. This affected residents and businesses throughout the downtown core and resulted in a boil water advisory and water disruption for several days,” wrote Moroziuk.

Read more: Water main break causes woes for Penticton business

Moroziuk’s report attributes the infrastructure deficit to a number of factors including stagnant population growth over the last decade, low and zero tax increases in recent years and reductions in cost sharing from higher levels of government, which have decreased from 78 per cent to 48 per cent.

“Penticton is not alone in facing this challenge. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated that Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit is $123 billion and growing by $2 billion annually,” wrote Moroziuk.

To start dealing with the problem, Moroziuk recommends the city start the process of educating the public on infrastructure planning and gather public input on developing a long-term, sustainable plan.

Options to create the funding needed on a long term basis include tax and utility fee increases, pursuing population growth, adjusting service offerings or service levels and working with other levels of government for reliable support.

Council will be receiving Moroziuk’s report at their Oct. 4 council meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in council chambers.

Read more: City needs $30 million solution for aging facilities

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