LETTER: Get informed about infrastructure costs

Capital funding for replacing Oak Bay’s aging roads/storm drains/sewer and water mains on the rise

My letter published in a February edition of the Oak Bay News pegged capital funding for replacing Oak Bay’s aging roads/storm drains/sewer and water mains at approximately $152 million. The latest reports, which now include municipal buildings, show the funding requirement will be substantially higher. Costs to deal with aging buildings and infrastructure are estimated to be more in the range of $250 million. Oak Bay’s annual revenues available for municipal purposes are about $22 million; the reserve funds (at November 2016) are approximately $26 million.

On Monday, March 20, Oak Bay’s director of engineering presented the long-awaited asset management reports at the committee of the whole meeting. The problem was that it was the last item on a long agenda, so the presentation was at 11 p.m. Only a few members of the public stayed for what was arguably the most important item on the agenda – reports on the status of Oak Bay’s infrastructure and buildings.

In 2006 the province’s Public Sector Accounting Board adopted rules on accounting and reporting on capital assets which were to be implemented by municipalities in 2009. Oak Bay’s 2010 annual report flagged concerns about funding aging infrastructure. The same concern has been flagged each year since. In the interim, costs and risks have been growing.

The latest reports on Capital Assets, compiled in 2015, were dated July 2016 and released after council’s 2016 Strategic Priorities meetings. This brings into question the decision by council to withhold release of reports vital to strategic and financial decision making, and of great concern to the community. In light of this information, current priorities and budgets must be reset and revisited. Consideration of large developments must include a risk analysis for adjacent infrastructure and financial ramifications for the community.

Copies of the reports are available on Oak Bay’s website at oakbay.ca/municipal-hall/plans-reports/projects-initiatives. Council’s next meeting on strategic priorities is scheduled for April 5. Be informed and be there.

Esther Paterson

Oak Bay

 

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