Over half of Canada’s municipal roads require significant repairs, and action should be taken urgently if greater costs are to be avoided in the future, according to a new report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
Titled Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, the report examines conditions of infrastructure in municipalities in four categories: drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and municipal roads, ranking them from “very good” to “very poor.”
About one third of municipal infrastructure was found to fall between “fair” and “very poor,” with replacement costs of over $170 billion, and many municipalities were found to lack the capacity to manage their infrastructure.
“The report card shows that core municipal infrastructure like roads and water systems, assets critical to Canada’s health, safety, and economic prosperity, are at risk,” said FCM president Karen Leibovici.
More than half of the roads surveyed were found to fall below a rating of “good” (i.e. ”fair” to “very poor”), and one in four roads were found to be over capacity.
Wastewater treatment plants could also use some attention, the report found, with one in four plants needing upgrade or replacement to meet new federal standards introduced this summer.
Nonetheless, the study found the wastewater systems along with drinking water in municipalities to be “good” and adequate for now.
Stormwater systems were identified as the best performing category, earning a “very good” status, which means it is fit for the future.
However, the report warns that the more positive findings shouldn’t become cause for complacency, and that many municipalities lack the capacity to assess the state of their infrastructure on their own due to resource limitations.
“The report card emphasizes the importance of having an asset-management system in place, in order to establish practices that will increase the longevity of the assets and optimize investments in maintenance and rehabilitation,” the report states.
More Funding Needed
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion says the report card shows that municipalities are in need of more funding to manage infrastructure effectively.
“Municipalities manage more than 50 percent of the country’s infrastructure, but with this heavy responsibility cities collect only eight cents of every tax dollar paid in Canada. It is not enough and cities continue to grow,” she said.
Leibovici, who is also a city councillor in Edmonton, points out that the federal government’s current $2 billion infrastructure funding program for municipalities will be ending in March 2014, and that the chance to make a new long-term infrastructure plan offers a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to put our essential infrastructure back on solid ground.”
“The new long-term federal plan must be designed to help communities like Edmonton meet challenges while creating jobs, building a strong economy, and maintaining a high quality of life for all Canadians,” Leibovici said in a release from the City of Edmonton.FCM published the report in partnership with the Canadian Construction Association, the Canadian Public Works Association, and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.
Over 120 municipalities representing 60 percent of Canada’s population took part in the study.
In future reports, FCM and its partners will be looking at other municipal assets such as housing and transit.
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