Deteriorating infrastructure a long-term concern in Corner Brook: mayor

Cory
Cory Hurley
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Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender gestures toward deputy mayor Bernd Staeben during the Monday, Jan. 23, 2014 public council meeting.

CORNER BROOK — The highs and lows of what is looking more like a typical Newfoundland winter are of particular concern to a small city like Corner Brook.

Its mayor, Charles Pender, says things have to change to help municipalities adapt to the changing weather — especially financially — to help the city deal with crumbling infrastructure.

A part of the new council’s mandate is to determine exactly what its residents view as priority spending. If that remains things like high-quality water and sewer delivery, smooth roads and efficient snowclearing, it could come at the expense of other services in the city, he said.

The cost of those expected services are escalating, especially with the drastic changes in weather, such as the recent winter cold snap and constant snowfall, followed by the mild and rainy period. A lot of asphalt throughout the city has been destroyed, and there were 17 water and sewer repairs in December alone.

City crews have worked around the clock in preparation for, and in response to, storms — whether it be high winds and rain, or snow. There have been flooding and washouts, immediately after city crews were hammered with a near constant snowclearing schedule.

During Monday evening’s public meeting, Coun. Josh Carey provided residents with an update on the snowclearing effort. He said the rain and mild temperatures have reduced a lot of snow, but crews have also widened and cleared many of the streets — something that is continuing between snowplowing operations. Curb and sidewalk clearing is also ongoing.

The heavy workload is also stressing on equipment, with a salt truck and loader from a mainly aging fleet in need of mechanical repair.

Carey also said city crews are using cold patch to repair the multitude of potholes throughout the city. He said the asphalt reclaimer has been serviced, and arrangements are being made for a safe place to operate it so hot mix can be generated. When weather permits, hot mix will be used in all potholes. Plans are being made to cut out the two large potholes on West Street and replace them with hot mix.

The city is encouraging people to report potholes. It was reported that city staff is aware of 22 areas in the city where there is at least one pothole. It is expected there are many more than that. People can call 637-1666 to report potholes.

 “The key thing to remember is we have aging infrastructure,” Pender said. “A lot of it has been in the ground for 50 years, and was not designed to meet and deal with the weather conditions that we have now.”

The mayor said millions have been spent on new storm sewers and related infrastructure in areas of high concern, but it appears the smaller areas are now developing into bigger problems.

“I guess the scary thing is, is this going to keep happening?” he said.

Pender said there seems to be no other option for a municipality but to get more funding from provincial and federal governments.

While the city is getting less and less in terms of operational funding from the province, the mayor said it is waiting to see what exactly the province means when it says money is available for infrastructure.

“We want to see a commitment from the province of where (the province is) going to put the dollars in,” he said. “What we don’t want to see is those dollars being taken away if the federal government gives us some money. The federal government has a responsibility to contribute more as well.”

Pender suggested the larger regional municipality should receive the 90/10 funding arrangement with the province, rather than the 70/30 Corner Brook currently receives.

 

*** Typos corrected ***

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Newfoundland, West Street

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  • david
    January 21, 2014 - 14:50

    " A lot of it has been in the ground for 50 years, and was not designed to meet and deal with the weather conditions that we have now." --- Charles Pender First off, blaming the weather is complete BS...convenient and self-serving BS. THe reason that some infrastructure is 50 years old is because it was never replaced or maintained. "Preventive maintenance", "scheduled service", "regular planned upgrades"...these are all policies that forward-looking, responsible towns use. Not us....heck, Priority #1 here was a new City Hall. Remember that?

  • Henry
    January 21, 2014 - 11:20

    Mayor Pender its a no brainer. As a tax paying citizen it appears to me that if you don't deal with failing infrastructure then it will simply collape in the ground, as you stated it is old.. The city repairs on this will be huge, however over time and a sustained plan that we can measure then I believe new infrastructure is achievable. New underground pipes are required and we need our streets reengineered, new curbs and gutters, repaved. Winter snow clearing is important and therefore new modern equip is required. I am not sure what you mean by what services we may have to choose. I am reasonably sure that after program review at city hall then that should be apparent. Get rid of the dead weight at city hall. City hall is to big for its britches. We are only a small town. Some of this money to fix infrastructure and streets can be found at city hall. Tax is already way to high as you stated when you got elected..The province has a respon to help our city. New building aquisitions should be only completed based on economic performance of city and additional tax derived from it. We don't need property tax increases like we have seen over last number of years. It has to stop.. Its on you and council to find a balance between services we can afford and taxation levels to pay for this. Maybe we should lose some services that we probably should not have had in the first place. Get your house in order Mayor Pender, this is why I voted this council in... Real change is required.

  • david
    January 21, 2014 - 10:31

    Corner Brook was a very well planned and laid out town, adapted to the limitations of its geography. Municipal policy in the past 25 years has been to support sprawling outwards, despite the lack of any economic pressures to do so, and letting the inner core area devalue and decay. The rational policy would have been to keep Corner Brook a manageable, compact size. We went the other way......stupidity. Well guess what? The chickens came home to roost long ago. Now enjoy your eggs.

  • Richard Wallace
    January 21, 2014 - 05:35

    When Pender and the other dinosaurs were running for council, didn't they all talk about how much money there was - how much taxes went up? Now it's all about the cost of escalating services and how we have to make choices. Pender and the sanctimonious six do a wonderful job of talking out of both sides of their face. There is far too much partisan politics here on the West Coast.