Infrastructure is important! After all, a functional infrastructure system is the physical foundation of a healthy, productive, and vibrant community. Without it, our lives would be a lot less convenient and a lot more difficult.
Municipalities right across Canada are dealing with aging infrastructure like pipes, roads, sidewalks, bridges and buildings. This is true right here in the MD of Wainwright.
Money is spent all the time to fix things when something goes wrong. As it gets older, our infrastructure is requiring more and more attention, and this isn’t likely to get better.
The challenge? Planning for more than just band-aid fixes.
To be able to plan for more than just band-aid fixes in the future, we need a strong asset management plan.
Look at it this way: if the shingles on your roof are so old that they’re starting to let water through, you should probably replace the shingles. That could be expensive! If you had planned for this kind of an expense ahead of time, the burden of the shingle replacement on your budget would be manageable. If you didn’t plan and don’t have the money, a partial (and very temporary) fix is likely the only option. The next leak is bound to happen sooner than later.
The older our infrastructure gets, the more likely it is to fail. This could mean more water pipe breaks, or deteriorating road conditions, and could result in more costly repairs on the same old pipes and roads. Emergency repairs are often more expensive than planned repairs!
Here in the MD, our infrastructure has reached an average of about 31% of its useful life. This doesn’t mean that our assets aren’t functioning at their full capacity now, or that they will simply stop working when this number reaches 100%. However, as our infrastructure gets older, this number gets higher – and the more likely it is for frequent failures.
To reduce this risk as much as possible, it is important that we establish priorities and plan ahead for appropriate maintenance
and replacement and continue to invest in our infrastructure. This is a significant task requiring continual improvement, but is vital to our long-term sustainability. We are notalone, as all municipalities in Canada face this same challenge.
It is our responsibility to take care of our infrastructure so that our children and future generations can still call the MD their home.
Ok, fine. How much is this going to cost us?
This is the problem, it’s going to cost a lot:
$11,200,000 per year! To put this number into perspective, our municipality’s total revenue in 2018 was $28,195,000, which mostly paid for operating our infrastructure and delivering services not infrastructure replacement!
It’s easy to see that there is no way we can put this amount of money aside. To achieve this level of reinvestment we’re going to need to think creatively and enhance collaboration with our neighbouring municipalities, as well as the provincial and federal governments. We also must think about what types and levels of service we need (and can afford!) to keep our community vibrant and attractive, not just for today, but for our children too.
Infrastructure is ours!
In fact, every person (including every child!) in the MD owns about $129,377 worth of infrastructure, which works out to a total replacement cost of $579,481,000. That’s not exactly pocket change.
The pie chart below shows the breakdown of infrastructure in the MD.