Thursday August 21, 2014

EDITORIAL - Street replacement plan a must


A lot of attention has been focused on Yorkton’s plan to redo Broadway Street, a project which is likely to eclipse $40 million, depending on the state of water lines, sewer lines and storm water pipes buried beneath the aged asphalt.

It is easy to drive down Broadway as spring thaw is upon us and realize just how badly new asphalt is needed.

Much of the street is simply a maze of car jarring holes.

At present the City has to be reluctant to invest much money in spot repairs as consideration of the larger reconstruction continues.

Yorkton Council has made it quite clear they will need federal and provincial participation in funding the Broadway project, as it would be too large a financial burden to take on alone.

Considering how a new $40 million dollar project would hamstring the City’s ability to borrow for any other need in the short and medium-term, such a worry by Council is legitimate.

There is of course some federal infrastructure dollars being invested across the country right now, but whether enough will filter down to a community Yorkton’s size is pretty unclear.

The feds have a tendency to like the mega-project, projects where they can get the maximum positive media spin for investing taxpayer dollars.

Yorkton is not exactly a high profile community in national terms, and it is situated in a province whose federal votes account for little in terms of winning or losing federal elections.

So expecting a third of the funding for Broadway to come from Ottawa might be a bit of a stretch.

Regardless of the eventual fate of the proposed Broadway project, this spring is showing a much larger issue facing the city.

As punched out as the asphalt is on Broadway Street right now, its condition is not an isolated situation.

Gladstone Avenue from Smith Street to Broadway is a pock-marked mess, one mimicked by much of Darlington, and the list could go on and on.

It does not take long, as we drive around the city this spring, to realize asphalt infrastructure needs a massive upgrade.

And the question is how will that be paid for moving forward?

Yorkton Council has increased spending on renewal the past few years, but is still losing ground to the effects of age on things such as asphalt, underground piping, curbs and sidewalks.

The higher levels of government might come through on a project such as Broadway, but they can’t afford to be in on every side street upgrade whether it’s Yorkton, or Estevan, Lethbridge, or Toronto. The coffers are not that fat.

So the City is going to face many of the projects alone, and the list of streets-in-need will grow longer, and the needs more dire, with each passing year.

Recent Councils have focused a lot of effort on planning.

Creating an affordable plan which keeps pace with street reconstructions in Yorkton may be one of the biggest issues facing Council and Administration in decades, if not in the community’s history.



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