By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall town council is starting to shape their five-year capital plan as they shuffle the deck in terms of what projects they want to see completed.
During their regular meeting on Mar. 5, councillors had a chance to discuss how they wanted projects ordered for the next five years.
Based on previous council discussions and projects in the past, administration organized a rough draft of the five-year capital plan.
In 2020, they had Sammy and Samantha beautification Phase II ($7,500), street sweeper ($50,000), directional signage ($5,000), server ($12,000) and handheld – water meter software ($23,000) for a total of $97,500.
For 2021, listed is downtown revitalization ($30,000), garbage truck – dumpsters ($175,000) and garbage truck – carts ($175,000) for a total of $380,000.
Projections for 2022 show sanitary outflow – pumps/controls upgrades ($356,000), sanitary outflow – bypass trunk force main ($178,000) and sanitary outflow – gravity outcall ($256,000) which totals to $824,000.
Coming in for 2023 is a new ice rink floor ($1 million) and 1st Street – rebuild and repave ($300,000) for a total of $1.3 million.
Finally, 2024 has complex paving ($1 million) and 1st Street – rebuild and repave ($300,000) for $1.3 million.
While paving of the Community Hall/Arena parking area has been discussed by council a few times, it wasn’t a major focus.
“Other costs on here I can justify quite easily, but that one I would struggle with,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips.
Mayor Margaret Plumtree stated it was still on the five-year capital plan because they never know when grant funding would become available for that type of project.
One of the biggest concerns brought forward by council was around town sidewalks.
While many were needing repairs around Vauxhall, it was hard to estimate just how many there would be until the warm weather reaches southern Alberta.
“I did a calculation eight or nine years ago. I counted all of the sidewalks that needed repairs, whether they are cracked, crumbled or old and it was over $1 million. Council then put $112,000 towards sidewalks,” said CAO Cris Burns.
Another option put forward in the past was to research the cost benefits in using asphalt instead of concrete for sidewalks.
“With sidewalks, you had talked about possibly using asphalt instead of concrete and it would be considerably cheaper up front,” added Phillips. “The advantage there is it tends to flex rather than crack. You can put all sidewalks down and guaranteed within a year there will be cracking and heaving all over the place again. That is what happens with concrete sidewalks.”
Administrations says there have been talks about the possibility of going that direction for sidewalks.
“I talked with our engineers MPE and one example we used was right in front of the high school, right where there were gravel and concrete pads. To go from the curb to the edge of that concrete pad, it was half the price. I’m not sure about regular sidewalks, I have seen it done with other communities where they pour asphalt sidewalks,” said Burns.
With a rough estimate of $200,000 put forth for sidewalks, council realizes much more would be needed to combat the issue.
“My concern here is $200,000 doesn’t go very far when you are replacing sidewalks. When you are building new sidewalks it is a different story. To tear it out to get rid of the concrete, that is a cost not part of new construction and it can be quite significant,” said Coun. Ray Coad. “Sidewalks are a big concern, they are probably our biggest liability. Failure to do something with them can cost us.”
With an inspection of sidewalks in the town needed before proceeding, it was suggested to bring back this particular discussion at a further date once the snow melts.
“Maybe what we want is to take a look at the sidewalks and to have that priority list then to look at asphalt again,” said Plumtree.
Having the necessary money to put forward for sidewalks was also listed as a problem.
“I can see spending $200,000 a year for the next 10 years,” added Coad. “I guess it is just a matter of putting together some dollars and showing us where the priorities are.”