City infrastructure requirements and steps to address ongoing challenges have been detailed in a new online web page which residents can now access for updates and information, the City of Prince Rupert announced on Feb. 25.
The page has been developed as a landing spot for the community to gain knowledge on local infrastructure projects, ask city staff questions, share information and as an avenue to collect feedback on infrastructure priorities.
“It’s no secret the city’s infrastructure is in dire need of attention,” Veronika Stewart, communications, engagement and social development manager for the City of Prince Rupert, stated.
“There is a lot currently going on with respect to city infrastructure upgrades and we are working to be as transparent with information as possible. If there’s a question you have or project you’d like to know more about, please don’t hesitate to reach out in the questions area or by contacting our communications office.”
The web page details the current state of affairs, explains the scope of the problems, the planned remedies, infrastructure issues that are being addressed under the strategic plan, and how the city is dealing with the $600 million infrastructure deficit.
A pie graph on the landing page shows a breakdown of projects needed to renew critical infrastructure that has been in place for more than 100 years. The largest pie piece is wastewater at 34 per cent, followed by roads at 30 per cent, water at 23 per cent and community assets at 13 per cent.
The city states the “overwhelming figures” exist despite the fact that headway has been made to renew the water and waste infrastructure through the 100-year-old dam replacement and the development of a new landfill cell.
“Although many communities across Canada have high infrastructure needs, Prince Rupert has additional revenue challenges unique to our community - including the restrictive nature of the Port Property Tax Act on our industrial taxation capacity, instability of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments from the Prince Rupert Port Authority, a lack of Resource Benefits Agreement with the Province that would help transfer a higher proportion of industrial income taxes to the municipality and the requirement to subsidize the airport ferry by over $1 million per year,” the landing page reads.
An Infrastructure Replacement Strategy, specifically focussing on waterpipes, has been commissioned by the city, which states will be shared with the community in the upcoming months. The plan will set the trajectory and priority for future infrastructure spending over the next five years.
A Strategic Plan for 2023-2025, which includes significant infrastructure priorities, has already been finalized and presented to the council. According to the new landing page, some of the key projects are: Complete and implement asset management and infrastructure replacement strategies, as well as streamlined asset data collection policy; Proceed with pursuing water treatment for the city and securing sufficient funding; Proceed with developing sanitary sewer treatment and securing sufficient funding; Continued relocation of public works; Continued construction of the RCMP building; Explore and pursue the development of a new fire hall building (subject to securing adequate funding and priority review); Continue to pursue negotiations and advocacy with the federal and provincial government to ensure the city has the revenue sources required to run the city and service industry.
While many of these projects are already underway, albeit some are in very early stages, the city has been prioritizing the dam replacement. Now that it is complete, the city is in the process of engineering and designing for new water treatment system.
“In conversations with Northern Health and the Province, it was well understood that securing the water supply at its source was the first priority because, without renewal of the dam, the entire supply would be at risk,” the infrastructure update reads.
The city’s new online portal outlines the accomplishments the corporation has made over the past five years, including completing a 40-year landfill cell; Completion of Phase 1 and 2 of waterworks projects which included the replacement and burial of a major section of the water main that goes from Woodworth Lake dam down toward Shawatlans Lake, plus construction of an access road which were required prior to the dam construction; Initiated the mandated replacement of the RCMP Station, securing a $25 million loan to complete the project; and increased the roads budget.
“However, this is still a priority area that will need additional funding to get ahead of necessary repairs and improve overall road conditions,” the city stated.
“Despite the above-noted efforts, significant investments continue to be needed in all areas of our local infrastructure to ensure the continued livability of Prince Rupert for Rupertites and to support projected economic growth.”