Saturday November 22, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Survey results are meant for general information only, and are not based on recognised statistical methods.




Plan is needed

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City councils and other organizations – regardless of whether they're elected or appointed – are tasked with many different responsibilities.

One of those responsibilities is the creation of long-term plans.

Estevan City Council has faced recurring questions about a lack of long-term planning. It came up several times during the 2012 civic election. And it's still brought up from time to time.

Council has done a good job on some fronts. A new community plan was released a few years ago, which came as welcome news to developers who want to invest in the city.

Last year council finalized a housing plan, and while it's not going to change the burdensome cost of rent in the city, the housing plan does identify the housing needs of the community, and the types of future developments that are needed.

Council has also completed plans for everything from the northwest corner of the city to Estevan's pathway system to paying down the debt.

But the infrastructure plan hasn't been discussed for some time, and it's one of the most important in the city. 

The last infrastructure document was a 30-year plan released in 2005. It identified many needs. Some of them have been fulfilled: resurfacing Fourth Street, Kensington Avenue and Souris Avenue North; and constructing Affinity Place and the new water reservoir.

The water main replacement program, which was a key component of the plan, is on hold. It will resume again. And other projects, such as the new fire hall in north Estevan, are still in the cards.

The 2005 document was released when Estevan was a bustling, but not a booming community. It came before an explosion in the price of doing business in Saskatchewan that made it more difficult to repair roads and construct buildings.

Any recent updates to the plan have not been released publicly.

According to the City's numbers from 2012, Estevan has about 80 kilometres of roads – nearly equivalent to the distance from Estevan to Weyburn. More than 20 kilometres of those roads have been paved since 2005, regardless of whether it's through new road construction, scheduled resurfacing, a shave-and-pave, or part of the water main replacement program.

Council needs to release a new plan – one that reflects not only how they plan to diligently tackle the remaining road repairs in the city, but how they plan to attack other infrastructure needs, such as the water main replacement program. And, of course, prices have to reflect the cost of business in 2014 and beyond.

A 30-year plan might be too far off. Five, 10 and 15 year plans might be better options. 


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