It costs about a million dollars to bring a kilometer of roadway up to an urban standard, curbs, gutters and bicycle lanes, safe for pedestrians and motorists. There are many kilometers of roadways in the District of Lake Country that could use more than just paint to meet the mark. Add in water systems and sewage in much the same state of long term use, and the District of Lake Country has an infrastructure deficit of about $250 million. To put the bill to local rate payers in perspective a one percent tax increase puts about $70,000 into the District coffers.
“We are not broke as a municipality,” says Mayor James Baker. “We have done some long term borrowing, we need to diversify our tax base and really take a look at how we manage our infrastructure assets and liabilities.”
There are assets in with the liabilities, Baker defines the state of Lake Country infrastructure as about evenly divided into thirds: good, fair and poor. The ‘poor’ requires replacement or remediation, the fair and good require ongoing maintenance. Baker estimates about $75 million is needed to deal with poor condition infrastructure in the near to medium term.
To make ends meet and put in a plan that deals with the realities on the ground Baker and two other mayors met with Minister Ida Chong on Tuesday, August 16 in Victoria to discuss community plans to deal with the problems. “We are asking the province to lobby the federal government for long term funding,” recounts Baker. “If something could be put in place for a longer term communities could do better planning. In applying for grants we might not always be successful.”
The federal government is sending gas tax revenue to the provinces and it is a good start says Baker.
Lake Country does have a priority plan in place and Baker says one of the points pressed to the Minister is that communities with good plans should be able to access funds, “We have a sustainable asset plan and the Minister is looking at all proposals.”
Chief Financial Officer, Stephen Banmen also feels Lake Country is on the right track when it comes to identifying the infrastructure needs of the District and residents, “I think we are ahead of the game. The District has spent lots of hours on this.”