Broadway Street is in bad shape and needs to be rebuilt above and below ground.
That was the crux of the message to Broadway business owners at a meeting February 5 sponsored by the Yorkton Business Improvement District (YBID).
Trent Mandzuk, the City’s director of public works, illustrated the problem with photos of the city’s decaying water mains, sewage pipes and storm drains.
He pointed out much of the water and wastewater infrastructure is from 1909 and 1915, far exceeding the life expectancy of 75 years. Much of the storm sewer system is newer (1950s), but also in poor shape.
The other problems, he said, are that the pipes are too small for the current size of the community restricting future growth, and do not meet current regulatory standards.
Mandzuk, along with engineering consultants Derek Trischuk and Darren Anholt of Integrated Engineering, then outlined the City’s proposed Broadway Street reconstruction project.
The estimated $45 million project would see almost the entire length of Broadway, from Hwy 9 in the east all the way to Hwy 10 in the west, ripped up and completely rebuilt with new pipes, service connections, road surfaces, sidewalks and streetlights.
It would be carried out on a block-by-block basis, Mandzuk said, in an attempt to minimize the inconvenience to individual businesses.
Phil De Vos, president of YBID, was careful to point out the proposal is only in its very preliminary stages, but said one way or another “it’s going to have to be done.”
The preferred way would be a federal-provincial-municipal partnership, Mandzuk said, with each level of government putting up a third of the cash. Council has already passed a significant property tax increase partially to help raise its share.
At this point, the City expects it will be able to get the grants through the Building Canada Fund anticipated in the yesterday’s federal budget, but Mayor Bob Maloney warned nothing is yet written in stone. Indications from the annual Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) meeting in Regina, from which Maloney had just returned in time for the YBID meeting, are that funds are going to be tight. All of Saskatchewan’s cities and towns “are in the same boat,” he said.
Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz said he could not say whether federal money would be earmarked for the project, but he recognizes just how important the project is for the city.
“I will, of course, be advocating for Yorkton in Parliament as I always do,” he said.
In the absence of federal and/or provincial funds, the City is exploring other options. Mandzuk said nobody wants to see the process stretched out over, say, 10 years, but that is one possibility.
Currently, the City wants to put the project out to tender for 2015 and phase the construction over three years. Even that, though, is contingent upon contractor and labour availability, Mandzuk pointed out.
Another option could be exploring longer term borrowing options, which the City is currently considering.
Finally, if worse came to worst, the City could contemplate simply repaving. Officials have been putting this off knowing the underground infrastructure requires replacement. Mandzuk said this is not a recommended option, particularly since it is not the most effective use of funds.
The City is currently accepting feedback on the proposed project.