District hesitant to expand road work

West Kelowna council has decided to postpone any decision to accelerate its proposed multi-million road rehabilitation program until next year.

The program, which could see the district repave 200 kilometres of road faster than would usually be the case, could cost West Kelowna as much as $48 million.

District staff have proposed doing the work over a time frame of between eight and 12 years, which would mean borrowing between $35 million and $39 million for the work.

Rehabilitating the pavement would lengthen the life of the roads, say staff.

But borrowing that much money would also require the approval of taxpayers.

One of the reasons for holding off on any decision to fast-track the work until next year’s budget deliberations is the borrowing estimate is not currently budgeted for in the district’s capital program.

As it stands, the district currently allots $1.75 million to road rehabilitation each year. Of the 260 km of road in the municipality, about 200 km will need to be repaved.

Both engineering director Gary O’Rourke and chief financial officer Jim Zaffino said the road work should be coordinated with other underground service work to be cost efficient. They say the district doesn’t want to pave a road, then have to dig up the work and repave it later to allow for the upgrade or replacement of other infrastructure such as sewer, water and drainage.

The district is currently working on 13 different master plans and they could impact on roads and affect an accelerated schedule if they are completed after a plan is implemented.

O’Rourke presented a preliminary assessment that showed undertaking an accelerated road rehabilitation program that could improve road conditions over the short to medium term (five to 15 years) and prevent an increase in maintenance costs due to deteriorating road conditions.

He  suggested it may be appropriate to target rehabilitation of all roads in the district over the eight to 12-year time frame, a move that would carry with it an annual debt servicing cost of up to $3.3 million for the eight-year program.

While council agreed to defer the plan, Mayor Doug Findlater said he would still like to see more sidewalks constructed in the district.

O’Rourke said sidewalks are currently being built and they conflict far less with underground services than roads.

But even they are not cheap.

He said the cost of building a sidewalk is about $200 per metre.



Kelowna Capital News

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