Mayor’s Column – November 23, 2016

November 23, 2016

 

Contrary to recent misunderstandings, Chetwynd is not thirty million dollars in debt, but has 10 years or so to find thirty million dollars, which in itself won’t be easy. Within the next ten to twelve years, the District of Chetwynd can expect to repair or replace thirty million dollars worth of infrastructure. This includes upgrades to the water treatment plant, many sewer pipes and many water lines. How did we get into this situation? Chetwynd has aging infrastructure. This is no one’s fault. It is the result of time. Time beats everything and has a perfect record of winning. When parts of Chetwynd’s infrastructure were initially planned and installed, it was designed to support a much smaller population. It’s hard to imagine, but the new sewer treatment plant, which is now state of the art technology, will one day be considered outdated and will need replacing.

To clarify, if Chetwynd borrows one and a half million dollars to replace the east trunk main,  this will reduce the infrastructure deficit from thirty million dollars to twenty eight and a half million dollars. As work is completed, the infrastructure deficit is reduced. By borrowing this money, the debt and infrastructure deficit still totals thirty million dollars. It appears as though we haven’t gained, but the difference is, although the total remains the same, the east trunk main will no longer be at high risk of failure. Borrowing money is not an easy choice for council. This should not be an easy decision and it is a good thing that it is heavily debated. Ultimately though, it was decided that the east trunk main   is an integral part of Chetwynd’s infrastructure and this project just can’t wait any longer. In order to have this pipe in the ground this summer, the process of borrowing money needs to be started now. Borrowing money is a lengthy process, and it is important to note, that the vote at the Nov 7th council meeting was to start the process of borrowing, which takes months and requires citizen’s approval. The money is not borrowed until it is needed to complete the project.

Chetwynd’s water lines and sewer pipes are mapped and rated as high, medium or low risk of failure. Water lines and sewer pipes that are rated as high risk are now scheduled to be replaced within the next ten years. Waiting for these systems to completely fail, and fix them as it happens would be far more expensive and could disrupt services to citizens. Ten years will go by fast and there is a lot of work to accomplish. It is reasonable to assume though in ten years, many of the water lines and sewer pipes that are now considered moderate or low risk will graduate to high risk. The plan developed by council and administration that addresses these high risk areas is aggressive and will put Chetwynd on  a path of sustainable infrastructure for generations to come.

 

Coun Bassendowski