Plympton-Wyoming would have to double its budget to make sure its roads are in good shape.
That’s the finding of the consulting firm BM Ross. Ken Logtenberg recently went over the study of Plympton-Wyoming’s road system with council. Logtenberg says the municipality has about 249 kilometers of roads – the majority – 103 km – of those are gravel. Logtenberg says the majority of Plympton-Wyoming’s paved roads are nearing the end of their life expectancy and need to be reconstructed or repaved in the near future. The tar and chip roads, he says are in not much better shape. Generally, municipalities resurface tar and chip every five to seven years and Logtenberg says many of Plympton-Wyoming’s tar and chip roads haven’t been repaved for much longer than that.
Logtenberg says to maintain the current service levels for roads, the municipality will have to spend an average of $2.146 million a year for the next five years and beyond. That would double the roads budget.
The consultant also recommended Plympton-Wyoming start replacing its equipment sooner since older vehicles incur more repair costs. Logtenberg suggested another $60,000 be added to the budget for that.
While the numbers are hard to swallow, Councillor Ben Dekker says the need is not surprising. “We’ve known it for years.” Dekker says the municipality has been investing in “fun projects” recently and he believes it has been at the expense of the roads. “Infrastructure has to start taking a priority or it is going get worse and worse.”
But just how that will happen is another story. Dekker suggested some of the roads which are now tar and chip should be returned to gravel. He says they are used primarily for agricultural equipment which is getting bigger and heavier and tearing up the roads. A gravel surface, he says, would stand up better in the long run.
“We don’t have a lot of residents living on those roads,” he says. “ A lot of non-residents use them and we’re spending a lot of tax dollars building non-arterial roads.
Logtenberg says some of the tar and chip roads could be returned to gravel since there are a number of County Roads which run north and south through the municipality for non-agricultural traffic to use.
The consultant has drawn up a map of roads which need attention and laid out a five-year plan for repairing and replacing them. The study recommends 16 roads and streets be repaired or replaced in 2016 including O’Brien Road and several streets in the Villages of Wyoming and Camlachie.
Plympton-Wyoming staff will go through the study and make recommendations base on it for the 2016 budget.
While councillors acknowledge something has to be done, doubling the roads budget seems out of the question. When increasing the budget by $44,000 increases taxes one percent, Councillor Bob Woolvett calls a huge increase a “massive non-starter.” He adds the provincial government used to provide funding for road projects to help municipality’s out, but it has been a long time since Plympton-Wyoming has received provincial cash for roads.
Even without provincial help, Councillor Ron Schenk says the municipality has to do something. “You can’t stick your head in the sand, something has to be done.”