Aging and failing infrastructure is an issue in virtually every community across Canada, and while some are sitting on their hands, Vernon is taking the lead.
City council has given the green light to a four-year capital implementation plan, and it will see $37 million pumped into all aspects of infrastructure during that time.
“It’s a lot of money that will change the community,” said Mark Dowhaniuk, the city’s infrastructure engineer.
And while $37 million won’t cover everything that needs to be done within an overall infrastructure deficit of $80 million, it is a positive start.
Among the projected works are road crack sealing and repairing aging sewer pipes. Some residents will roll their eyes at developing road corridors but the reality is that as the community grows, there will be a need to move traffic efficiently.
The same logic can also be applied to extending the trail network. Not everyone rides a bicycle, but many do and it’s a way of easing the traffic pressure.
Some council members question placing parks in the capital plan but infrastructure is so much more than roads, sidewalks and pipes in the ground. There are amenities that residents depend on for recreational purposes and they must be maintained. Case in point is the long-overdue enhancements to Polson Park.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and most of it is decades of catch-up in the making, particularly as politicians in the 1990s focused on reducing taxes rather than investing in infrastructure.
Current members of council and city staff deserve praise for recognizing the issue and establishing a firm direction.