by Colin Smith
Town Council has decided to draw $20,000 from Morinville’s transportation reserves to fund road repairs not included in the 2022 budget.
Those funds will be used for additional pothole filling to be completed by town staff.
Council made the decision after considering three options presented by administration, which it had requested to come up with a list of road, sidewalk and trail rehabilitation projects that could be done with $120,000 during this construction season.
At its June 14 meeting Councillor, Scott Richardson put forward the idea of using $120,000 of transportation reserve funds for additional road and sidewalk rehabilitation this season.
The option that involved spending the entire $120,000 would have seen it allocated to a contracted asphalt mill and overlay along Cardiff Road or 100 Street, sidewalk spot replacement in various locations or contracted spray patching of trails and roads in various locations.
Alternatively, transportation reserves funds could be used to Increase the roads operating budget up to $60,000 for one or both of contracted spray patching the most deficient areas of 100 Street and Cardiff Road, $40,000, or additional pothole repairs to be completed by staff, $20,000.
The other option was that transportation reserve funds not be used for project spending in 2022, with the administration to review options to for their use for funding in the capital plan for 2023.
This was the preferred option of the administration, which recommended that council defer utilizing the transportation reserves in 2022 in order to mitigate impacts to the 2023 capital budget from current economic conditions.
In his presentation to council, Infrastructure Services Manager Jordan Betteridge acknowledged that there are a greater than usual number of potholes and cracks in Morinville’s roads, sidewalks and trails because of the extraordinary 2021/2022 winter season weather, with its mid-winter freezing rain events and freeze/thaw cycles.
But because grant funding for the 2023 capital budget will be reduced, it may be necessary to use transportation reserve funds to ensure the annual road rehabilitation program and the annual sidewalk replacement program can be funded next year.
Also, the availability of contractors to take on projects may be limited at this point in the construction season. Contractors are likely to have full workloads, and as a result pricing for new projects will typically come at a premium.
In the end, council favoured the $20,000 pothole repair option, unanimously passing a motion to that effect proposed by Councillor Rebecca Balanko.
“Let’s get this done now and make bigger plans for next year when we have to look at some repairs and possible replacements,” said Balanko. “The evidence was quite compelling with grant dollars not necessarily being allocated for next year that we’ll have to look at that buying power and stretching it out as much as we can.”
Withdrawing the funds for the pothole repair project leaves the transportation reserve with a balance of $320,861.66.
The 2022 budget allocated $880,400 to the Road Rehabilitation Program. That decreased to $760,400 when $120,000 was reallocated to cover the costs of substructure maintenance on the Little Egg Creek Bridge.
According to Betteridge, the reallocation will not take away from necessary road rehabilitation work because underground work budgeted for was found to be unnecessary.
The need for maintenance of the structure on East Boundary Road, also known as the Manawan Canal Bridge, came to light during an inspection of the damage after a Sturgeon County grader hit deck girders on May 11, knocking them out of alignment.
Sturgeon County will be paying for the girder repairs.