Editorial: Many projects too little money

If you have been paying attention to Yorkton Council the last several years you are aware that Yorkton, like almost every city across this country, is in a growing infrastructure deficit.

The problem is rather simple to understand, waterlines, sewer lines, asphalt, sidewalks, public buildings, have been built over the decades, many rarely upgraded and most never replaced. As the years and decades have passed, the infrastructure ages, and at some point that age causes failures.

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On a sidewalk that might mean a chunk or two of cement breaks away, or there is a shift causing a trip hazard. They are issues rather simply addressed, but it still needs repairs, and hints at the need to replace entire stretches of sidewalk as soon as is reasonable.

An issue arising underground, broken water and sewer lines are bigger problems, needing immediate attention to keep clean water flowing to homes, and waste headed to the treatment plant.

As it stands Yorkton tries to replace the pipes and streets and sidewalks that are in most dire need, but it would take decades at current rates to upgrade the entire network.

While it is understood more should be done, there is simply not the funds to do it. As a result patches often must suffice when replacement would have been the better option. The ‘shave and pave’ resurfacing of Broadway Street over the last two summers is a prime example. It addressed the holes in the surface pavement, but did not upgrade old pipes under the street.

And the issue of needed renewal, but limited dollars to do it is quickly becoming more complicated in the city.

Last year the City of Yorkton’s Public Works Department was a hot topic for Yorkton Council.

The building is one in crisis. Their building is no longer habitable, and the 75 people on staff have to be relocated for safety reasons.

The problem with the current facility comes down to contamination. Environmental testing confirmed the presence of petroleum-based hydrocarbons at the site. As a result, the city’s fleet staff has been relocated to a different property on Sixth Ave. North, while the administration staff is waiting for construction site trailers so they are can move out of the facility.

A new building could cost as much as $20 million.

Move next to the Kinsmen Arena, another building showing its age, to the point it’s pretty clear replacement is the only reasonable option.

Again this project will cost millions, but it’s difficult to even think about a city the size of Yorkton with only one indoor skating surface, so it is needed.

The grandstand at the Yorkton Exhibition grounds is in need of a major repair package, or it could be decommissioned, and demolished.

It’s another facility it is difficult to imagine the city living without.

Council has some difficult choices ahead, but so too do voters. What do we want moving forward as a community? Do we accept higher taxes to ensure a Kinsman Arena replacement? Are there current City services we would give up in lieu of a new grandstand?

It is a debate we as a community need to have and the municipal election this fall seems an ideal time to start the process.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

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