FCM sounds alarm on failing infrastructure

$1.7 billion to replace Township road, water, sewer systems

A report issued by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities says that without immediate improvement and continuing maintenance, the cost of fixing or replacing roads, bridges and underground services across the country will “explode” over the next decade.

Gleaning data from more than 120 municipalities representing 60 per cent of the Canadian population, the report concludes that more than half of municipal roads are falling apart.

Township Councillor Bob Long, an FCM member, called the report card “a credible document by which we can measure what the infrastructure deficit really is — and it’s in the billions of dollars.”

The cost, according to the FCM, is at least $20 billion.

One in four roads is over-capacity, transporting far more people and goods than it was designed to handle, and one in four wastewater treatment plants needs to be upgraded or replaced to meet new federal standards introduced this summer.

Langley Township’s bill for repair and replacement will be astronomical.

According to engineering director Ramin Seifi, the replacement value for all of the Township’s water, sewer, storm water, and transportation infrastructure is currently estimated at more than $1.7 billion, with transportation assets accounting for approximately half of that.

The analysis currently under way has identified a funding shortfall of approximately $15 million, based on the most recent five-year capital budget, confirming that funding levels are not sufficient to ensure adequate maintenance and ultimate replacements of aging assets, he added.

Seifi said that the Township is developing a comprehensive asset management program for infrastructure (water, sewer, storm water, roads and bridges).

“The majority of the Township’s infrastructure has a fair condition rating, although a number of assets are approaching or have already exceeded their expected service lives,” he said.

Overall, the Township’s infrastructure is in much better shape than the national average due to the relative age of the assets, Seifi said.

“The report card shows that core municipal infrastructure like roads and water systems, assets critical to Canada’s health, safety and economic prosperity, are at risk,” said FCM president Karen Leibovici.

“Investments in infrastructure over the last few years have helped, but without long-term action we are still headed for a crisis,” she said.

The FCM said last week that two billion dollars in federal funding for local governments will lapse by March, 2014, and the new federal long-term infrastructure plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put essential infrastructure back on solid ground.

The FCM partnered with the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA) and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) to deliver the report card. This marks the first time a group of national stakeholders worked together to measure the state and performance of municipal infrastructure from one end of Canada to the other.

The first edition of the report card measured the condition of municipal roads, drinking water, wastewater, and storm water systems. Future studies, which the FCM and its partners plan to release on a regular basis, will look at other assets such as housing and transit.