When Kelvin Russell opened the Oak Bay News to find a picture of Mayor Nils Jensen with the district’s new electric vehicle charging station, at a cost of $2,500 to the district, all he could think about was potholes.
“It’s falling apart, the road is,” Russell said. “It’s going into decay.”
Russell has owned his house on Lulie Street, between Cranmore Road and Bowker Avenue since 1997, and says he sees the road getting worse every year. The street has no sidewalks so the road is shared by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
The charging station was partially paid for out of a provincial grant specifically for the station, but that’s not good enough, Russell said.
“It’s public money no matter where it came from. … It’s an absolute joke.”
After last winter, Russell called the municipality and public works crews came and patched up the potholes. This year, the street is once again covered in multiple potholes.
“Public works are constantly going around and picking up these sorts of complaints that come in,” said Dave Marshall, director of engineering for Oak Bay.
As complaints come in, the district makes sure to go around and patch up bad potholes. There is also a pavement management program being implemented that will address the worst roads in Oak Bay over a five-year period, but Marshall said it will likely focus on major roads.
Roads are being evaluated and a list of the worst roads is being compiled. Lulie St. is not on the list.
Smaller roads are addressed usually only after a complaint, and then generally with patching. Marshall said residents often don’t want roads repaved because the fresh pavement promotes speeding.
“We have some roads that are quite bad in the municipality from a visual, esthetic point of view, but … the residents don’t want the roads touched,” Marshall said.
“There’s more to it than just looking at the physical conditions of the road,” he added.
Coun. John Herbert, chair of the district’s public works committee, said he didn’t know if Lulie Street was on the list for patching, but he would put in a call to have someone take a look. He said at this time of year it can be difficult to do a permanent fix, due to the rain.
“They often do a temporary fix, which sometimes ends up making a bump rather than a pothole,” Herbert said.
“We’re not spending enough on roads, there’s no question about it.”
Herbert said approximately $300,000 a year is spent on road upgrades and he believes at that rate the roads of Oak Bay get progressively worse every year, rather than better.
“Roads reach a point that if you repair them at this point, you get a long life out of them. If you miss that point and let them go further, you’re usually having to rebuild them at much greater expense.”
“On the other hand, you’ve got to recognize that Oak Bay is a little municipality. One per cent on taxes is $150,000 or $160,000. … So it’s quite a difference.”
Russell said he’ll be calling about the road again this year, but he’d still rather see it repaved than patched up again.
“We’re paying property taxes like the others,” Russell said.
Concerns over road conditions can be directed to the municipal hall at 250-598-3311.