Oak Street Pavement Approved...Partially


Robert Thomas

Financial priorities elsewhere won over top of efficiencies when it comes to paving a never paved portion of Oak Street.

Council debated a motion which was tabled at the August 13, 2018 until a report was received from the City Manager. The August motion would have seen paving plus curb and gutter from 4th Avenue NE to four metres past the eastern edge of Copper Ridge Way and it paid for from the land development fund.

In lifting the tabled motion so it could be debated and voted on Councillor Brian Swanson put forth a motion almost identical to the tabled motion but added the proviso it also be added to the 2019 road development fund for completion.

Coun Swanson talked about how an out-of-town developer had spent millions to refurbish the former Ross School and four or five years later the property sits vacant. He termed the vacant building, which millions was spent on refurbishing as “unfortunate” and said that other factors contributed to its vacancy.

“The distance of 10 to 15 metres that is unpaved but I think it is part of the puzzle,” he said, adding that he estimated the cost at between $20,000 to $25,000 versus the $121,000 figure proposed to complete the same work on Oak Street from 4th Ave NE to Wolfe Avenue.

“Money better spent elsewhere in the city,” he said, adding “I don’t think Oak Street is at the top of the priority list.”

Mayor Frasier Tolmie said he didn’t disagree with the points Coun Swanson made but he had “spoken to someone in the neighbourhood in favour of the whole road being paved.”

A major point with Mayor Tolmie was consistency and completing the entire job while the City was paving on Oak Street. He used the analogy of concerns raised where a pothole is repaired and close by another pothole isn’t repaired to illustrate his point of paving the entire stretch at one time.

Councillor Crystal Froese said she supported the Mayor in not supporting the motion to only pave a portion of the unpaved section of Oak Street.

“This motion asks us to just pave an entranceway,” Coun Froese said, adding “I support the Mayor to only do a chunk of this section is kind of silly.”

Coun Swanson spoke about growing up in the area and how the stretch of Oak Street had not been paved for 60 years and it was a “very little travelled street.”

“My point is we have much work and better places to pave than Oak Street…Oak Street is not the highest priority.”

The cost difference, between paving all or a portion of Oak Street, of “$90,000 is a lot of money,” he said.

In the August report to Council paving the entire stretch of Oak Street was seen as cost effective and cheaper than leaving it as a gravel stretch of street on an annualized basis.

“The (August) report outlined that given the small amount of roadway in question, the annualized capital costs for replacement would likely be less than the operational efficiencies (ie less grading, easier garbage collection and snow operations),” the most recent report stated.

Despite the report Coun Swanson said the entire issue came up in a Strategic Planning Session 10 months earlier and was unanimously agreed upon at that time.

“It generates an expenditure I believe four times what is required," he said.

City Manager Jim Puffalt said there had been a discussion with the Ross School developer but they were “not interested at this time” in paying a portion of the paving costs.

Puffalt pointed out he had driven the section of road and there was a mail box on it meaning the road had traffic on it.

The City Manager said Administration's suggestion was to retrieve the costs from future development as it occurs.

Councillor Chris Warren spoke about how at budget discussions Budget Committee was told there were four gravelled roadways in the City with priority to be paved and the Local Improvement Program (LIP) was being considered for those roads. During budget discussions the four unpaved roads were brought forward as examples of petitioning in an LIP. Petitioning in an LIP is where property owners who own over 50 percent of adjacent properties request a municipality to do infrastructure work and agree to pay a portion of the cost.

“I thought we would be getting back some strategy to adding it and this would be one of them,” Coun Warren stated.

“My preference would be to deal with Oak Street as these other locations in the city.”

Coun Warren asked where the strategy was to allow road work like the Oak Street paving to be part of an LIP.

Josh Mickelborough, City Engineer said Administration was working on a strategy which would be complimentary to an LIP. It would include developers paying a portion to pave streets which were never paved.

Coun Warren spoke about unpaved streets where when they were developed property owners never paid for paved streets as it was cheaper and years later “basically the City is paying into their developments.”

He stated that he would like to see a policy which is consistent and logical fashion.

Councillor Heather Eby said she supported the policy.

“For me it just makes sense to stick with the policy...I'd like to see it done as the policy states.”

Coun Froese re-entered the debate still opposed to partially paving the street.

“I don’t know if I can even vote on this anyways we don’t know the exact cost,” Coun Froese stated, adding “I agree with Councillor Warren this should be part of a citywide motion."

Mayor Tolmie backed her position saying it “started out with the intention to do things methodically.” He added it had been this Council’s intent not to have one offs.”

“I cannot support this as there is no dollar value,” Mayor Tolmie stated.

Despite the opposing views Coun Swanson’s motion carried with a 4-3 vote with Mayor Tolmie and Councillors Froese and Warren opposed.

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