Hoping for bike lanes, harbour pathway in Victoria? Wait two centuries

An asset management report made public this week reveals extent of immediate costs for City of Victoria

Unless Victoria city council can find a mountain of cash, its 30-year vision for the city could take nearly two-and-a-half centuries to bring to reality.

An asset management report made public this week reveals the city’s pedestrian, bicycle, harbour pathway and greenways master plans will cost at least $177 million and take between 75 years and 243 years to complete at current funding levels.

The report also lists the price tags of projects needing work in the next five years, including up to $58 million to rebuild Crystal Pool, $16.5 million for seismic upgrades at Fire Hall No. 1 and a $3-million to $7-million shortfall to refurbish the Bay Street Bridge.

“We need a fire hall and we need a Bay Street Bridge,” said Coun. Lisa Helps. “If we want to have a swimming pool and a walkable, bikeable city – which I absolutely want – and implement all of these master plans, we’re going to need to be really creative in how we go about those things.”

The report provides several funding options for council, who meet tonight to discuss the matter at a committee meeting.

Finance staff recommend Victoria property tax bills continue to rise at least 1.5 per cent until 2019 to help pay for the city’s deferred maintenance; that number doesn’t include another 16-19 per cent projected tax hike to pay for the Capital Region’s $783-million secondary sewage treatment project.

“it’s a bad time to be a Victoria property taxpayer, that’s for sure,” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “The sewage treatment plant has eaten up any available (property) tax space for residents.”

Municipalities across B.C. should be focusing on maintaining crucial infrastructure and plan for amenity spending when the economic climate is healthier, Bateman said.

“Pipes in the ground aren’t sexy, but they are absolutely the lifeblood of any community,” he said, pointing to further cost-saving possibilities at the local level. “The provincial government has quit giving pay increases to its employees, municipalities need to do the same.”

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said the city’s master plans are intended to guide long-term council decision-making rather than create immediate change.

“The plans allows us to identify opportunities more quickly and take advantage when they’re in front of us,” she said. “But in times when the economy is struggling, we need to do things more cost-effectively.”

The 20-year capital budget is expected to be revised once council agrees on spending priorities, although a decision on Crystal Pool is dependent on a consultant’s report, due back to council next spring or summer.

Long-term funding solutions can be found by forming stronger partnerships with higher levels of government, and council will need to assess whether private sector partnerships are feasible, Helps said.

“This is a Canada-wide problem,” she said. “We’re basically confronting reality.”

The report also estimates longer-term visions, like the redevelopment of Centennial Square and other city assets, would require at least another $193 million.

View tonight’s governance and priorities agenda here.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read