Roads and potholes are bad in Kingston. Potholes and poor roads are not only unsightly, they are dangerous, a nuisance and expensive for cars; many even find driving over potholes painful.
We were about $9 million short this year of what is needed just to maintain our existing road network at the optimal level - then we raded our savings for $3 million. We are still short by $6 million. Resurfacing an existing road costs about $9000 per lane kilometer and it should last 15 to 25 years depending on use. To maximize the top surface's lifetime it should be maintained as needed with micro-surfacing and crack filling.
If you look outside and see unfilled cracks on your street you are looking at the short fall in city spending. Those unfilled cracks are shortening the useful life of the road.
If we do not keep our roads well maintained to the optimal level at the optimal time we pay more later. If we do not resurface an existing road at the right time then the underbed's lifetime is shortened. A good underbed should last 50 plus years. But if we do not resurface properly then the underbed's useful life is shortened. To replace an underbed on an existing road costs about $90 000 per lane kilometer.
The city has grown its road network faster than it has grown its tax base. This means there is more work to be done with relatively less money.
The infrastructure problem is the result of a less than thoughtful past council's undue obsession with no tax increases. A later past council wisely took on a long range plan to implement proper capital financing. The City is doing something but not enough.
About 15 years ago the City wisely instituted a policy to insure that there were adequate funds available for infrastructure renewal if road expansion proceeded in moderation. According to the Municipal Performance Measurement Program (2012) operating and total costs for paved roads per lane km have been rising while the adequacy of these paved roads has been falling over comparable years (see pages 10 and 14). As Kingston has grown we have not been able to keep up with road repair because we have built more roads than needed for our current population and business needs. The policy that says "build it and they will come" has not worked well for us. I propose to slowdown new road construction and increase road repair until we are ready to grow again. In short I will advocate moving funds from the new road construction budget to the road repair budget such that we can keep our roads smooth and pothole free.
1) Limit uncommitted new road construction until we are ready to grow again. This will have the effect of limiting the expansion of our road network until we are able to pay for the existing road network without a liability transfer to future generations.
2) Move money from the new road construction budget to the road maintenance budget. The faster we catch up to the optimal level of maintenance the lower our future replacement costs will be and the faster we reach a point of true fiscal accounting for all capital assets.
A) We need to better fund infrastructure by expanding the tax base while minimizing liabilities. This is done through 1) urban intensification in appropriate places, 2) encouraging people to move here, 3) better designed development charges and impost fees and finally 4) increased non-tax revenue streams, to better pay for what we have built.
B) Establish proper true cost accounting for all current and future projects so that the mistake of unfunded future liabilities is not repeated.