Port Alberni Budget 2016: Budget cuts threaten infrastructure

“Less, less, less” was the theme of city engineer Guy Cicon’s budget presentation to city council for the second year in a row.

“Less, less, less” was the theme of city engineer Guy Cicon’s budget presentation to city council for the second year in a row.

“Our current investment in roads is not sustainable,” Cicon told city council during his department’s annual budget presentation, repeating what’s become an annual refrain.

“I’ve mentioned in years gone by that 20 years ago we used to put $1.2 million into the roads. It’s just an area that gets smaller and smaller because its from general revenue.”

Roads and storm drains are taken from general revenue and reflect directly on taxation. Water and sewers are funded by utilities and thus don’t reflect on the tax rate.

“We hear a lot about how our road system is going to fail eventually because we’re not putting enough into it—how do we get to the point where we are putting enough into it?” Coun. Sharie Minions asked Cicon.

“I’m just concerned about when we get to the point when a lot of them do fail at the same time.”

Cicon said that while the roads—and what’s underneath them—are bad, they’re not that bad but that when do they fail, they’ll likely fail together.

“A lot of the town’s roads were built at the same time and they’ll fail at the same time,” Cicon said but added “when we get to that point we’ll feel it and see it.”

Cicon’s budget only presented $565,000 for roadwork this year—a decrease from $753,000 in 2015 and $705,000 in 2014.

In 2014, Cicon noted that he could use $2 million a year for a sus-tainable roadwork budget.

“This year is less than last year, which was less then the year before and less than the year before,” he said.

Along with the $565,000 for roadwork, Cicon also asked for $450,000 for storm drains, $612,500 for waterworks and $350,000 for sanitary sewers.

Cicon asked for $65,000 to replace the deck of the Josephine Street bridge. The single-span, 3.6 metre long bridge has been covered by a metal sheet since early 2015.

Another failing bridge is the 43-metre-long Victoria Quay Bridge over Roger Creek; Cicon asked for $50,000 for a study determining the best course of action for the four-span concrete and steel bridge and was questioned on the sum by Coun. Dan Washington.

“I think I know what’s wrong with it and I think I know how to fix it,” Cicon said, noting that he’s learned to estimate high for bridge repairs.

“I think if the Gertrude Street bridge over Kitsuksis Creek is any history for me… perhaps council wants more research done into it. I don’t want to find ourselves into the situation where I gave you that best guess of $250,000 without having a lot of hard information and that’s come to be more than that.”

The Gertrude Street bridge originally cost $249,500 but costs increased to $347,000 after more work was discovered.

Going back to 2015’s $25,000 reduction in street sweeping, Cicon called it “a dismal failure.”

“We got a lot of complaints and we couldn’t keep up the level of service that was demanded of us so we weren’t able to achieve that level of cost reduction that I was aiming for.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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