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Kamloops infrastructure ‘in good shape’

As the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) calls on the federal government to find more cash for communities, big-city mayors are sharing stories of crumbling expressways, aging wastewater-treatment plants and a dire need for new infrastructure cash.

That’s not the situation in Kamloops, according to David Duckworth, the city’s director of corporate services and community safety.

“We’re in good shape, Kamloops is in good shape,” Duckworth said.

“You look at our roads here, drive around and then go to Prince George or go to Edmonton. Our roads are pretty good.”

The FCM is asking the federal government to increase the amount of cash available for municipal infrastructure projects to $5.74 from $3.25 billion a year for the next two decades, and to index gas-tax transfer payment to communities at the same three per cent rate as health-care transfers.

The current federal-funding program is set to expire in 2014.

Duckworth said stable funding is important because, while Kamloops is in good shape now, much of the city’s infrastructure will reach the end of its lifespan over the next 20 years.

“A typical water main lasts 50 years and, by the mid 20s, like 2025, about half of our water infrastructure will be approaching 50 years old,” he said.

One reason the city is in better shape than older communities like Toronto and Montreal is because the way cities deal with their infrastructure has changed.

“We’re in a better position now because we know that we need to spend more money on maintenance as opposed to letting it fall apart like they’ve done back East or any older municipality,” Duckworth said.

“Municipalities are far better off now doing that than they were 20, 30 years ago.

“It didn’t matter. They just let things fall apart. We do a better job.”

The City of Kamloops now has $250 million in capital projects planned for the next five years.

Of that amount, about five per cent will be funded through grants.

However, if more grant funding from the federal government is available, the city can keep property taxes lower, Duckworth said.

“There’s no huge projects on the books right now where we really need funding,” he said.

“But, we just want to make sure, through the FCM, they lobby hard to make sure there’s a stable amount of money available to municipalities when they need it.”

 

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