A New Year brings with it a number of new challenges to be met, and decisions to be made. The District has a number of ongoing projects and a few new ones to get underway soon.
The condition of our local infrastructure is under review and discussion. There are a number of issues to be dealt with as various projects unfold. There are possible cost savings by linking together infrastructure rebuilds that are needed.
For example, one of the main lines of the sewer will run down Barriere Town Road. We will have to dig the road up and cross the road in a number of places to connect other lines.
There is an old cement asbestos water line that runs down Barriere Town Road, and for all intents and purposes is at the end of its useful life. That water line is on the other side of the road from the sewer line. There are definite cost savings to replace this line during sewer construction. Plus, Barriere Town Road could be constructed properly.
When I say Barriere Town Road could be constructed properly, I am referring to the opportunity while the sewer line is under construction to repair current and long standing issues, that include such things as:
• Drainage, or more appropriately referred to as non-drainage issues that have long plagued some intersections.
• Widen the road surface and include a separated path for pedestrians and motorized mobility aides, a.k.a. scooters. The separation would serve as the drainage swale for the road.
• Design and construct the road so that the current minefield of potholes and crumbling road edges can be eliminated. Again, the road surface is approaching time for replacement. We can patch it up during the sewer installation, but in all reality it will be just a patch job.
• Design proper intersections and designate parking in the appropriate areas.
None of this work is free, and it certainly is not cheap. I am not saying that it is. If this project was being done by private enterprise the decision could be to do it now, do it right, and save money over the long haul; or, to put the sewer in, patch the road, and ignore the water line and other issues. That decision would be based on the probability of a profit. The cost to borrow money now is as low as it has ever been, and from a business prospective the decision should be to do both projects in concert to leverage cost savings and efficiencies.
In business, the money to be used for projects belongs to a group of investors that have all agreed to spend money as their Board of Directors see fit. The money is theirs to spend. As investors they accept the risks of being in business.
For government bodies the same challenges are there, and they are expected to engage the issues based on good business practise. The problem is that the funding to meet these challenges comes from a very different source. The funding comes from taxes. Taxes that are paid by people that mostly feel they have little or no say as to how those taxes are set or spent. The taxpayer needs to feel engaged and consulted at all levels, not ripped off at every turn.
We all know nothing lasts forever. Once an essential infrastructure item is worn out, it needs to be replaced. The whole civilized world is struggling with failing infrastructure issues. The problems are costly and will not go away on their own.
We have a number of infrastructure problems right here in Barriere that need attention. Decisions will be made that cost money, your tax money. These decisions may be unpopular with some residents. Remember that the council members you have voted into office make their decisions based on sound business practises and what they feel is for the good of the whole community, not what they think will get them elected next term. Correct thoughtful decisions are not always popular decisions.
Some politicians feel they must strive to be popular, and they lose sight of why they were elected. When this happens it is truly a sad situation.