Colwood takes a look at infrastructure costs for next 50 years

Roads and sewer replacement major part of staff report

Rick Stiebel

News staff

The City of Colwood is taking a long-term, measured approach to looking at how to handle the cost of maintaining its assets 50 years down the road.

Council will discuss a staff report titled Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan 2019-2068 at the committee of the whole meeting on January 21. The plan takes a detailed, 50-year look at the costs of maintaining a large inventory of assets that deliver services to the community. Some of the big-ticket items under scrutiny include transporation services for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and drivers, and mains, laterals, manholes and stormwater and sanitary sewer transmission.

READ ALSO: Colwood Coun. Cynthia Day arrested over ongoing dispute

The report also examines the costs of maintaining parks and trials and natural assets such as trees, creeks, ponds, ditches, rock pits and waterfront with regard to drainage, recreational and environmental services. Total municipal assets are currently valued at $350 million, and the plan estimated the City can expect to spend $425 million during the next 50 years to maintain capital services.

Options explored include sustainably funding capital replacements and taking advantage of investment earnings, or deferring funding, which the report says would incur debt and sharply increase taxes in the future. Sustainable funding is estimated to earn $51 million in returns during the next 50 years, while deferred funding could cost Colwood $35 million in interest alone during that time frame. The research completed indicates the need to increase sustainable funding from the current $2 million to $4.9 million, which could be accomplished by dedicating $900,000 in funding sources identified in the staff report, and increasing taxes/utility rates by one per cent over the next 12 years. That would result in an average residential tax bill hike of about $15 to $20 for the next 12 years.

READ ALSO: 105-year-old church in Colwood gets an upgrade

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said the plan is about understanding the costs to maintain infrastructure, as opposed to waiting until it breaks down and having to then respond with a sudden tax increase. “This kind of foresight ensures Colwood residents can rely on stable and predictable tax rates, avoids debt servicing costs, takes advantage of investment returns and makes Colwood resilient to a changing economy and environment,” Martin said in an email to the News Gazette.

For a look at the complete Sustainable Infrastructure Replacement Plan 2019-2068, go to colwood.ca under committee of the whole agendas.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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