While residents now have a new bridge ($105 million plus), and are planning for a new Crystal Pool ($69.4 million), plus fire hall and emergency centre ($35.9 million), tax revenue is needed to upgrade other aging City of Victoria infrastructure.
City staff are now developing asset master plans and condition assessments to determine how much capital investment is actually needed – it will likely be hundreds of millions of dollars.“The infrastructure deficit is the difference between what you need to spend to do upgrades and the funding you will have available in the years you need to do those upgrades,” says Susanne Thompson, director of finance.
“The capital budget funding levels have reached sustainable levels for some assets (water), some are close to sustainable levels (storm drains), some projects are shaped through consultation with the community (park upgrades), some require additional analysis to determine the required funding levels (sewer, equipment and surface infrastructure such as street and traffic lights), and some fall short of recommended levels (facilities, roads and fleet),” says Thompson.
Even though the City doesn’t have the exact number, it knows it has an infrastructure deficit and has already started increasing funding levels for infrastructure renewal. For example, for 2017 the planned spending and saving in reserves from property taxes and user fees was about $44 million combined with utilities which follow a pay-as-you-go approach.
“Never before now has careful stewardship of our assets and tax revenue been more important – until all these infrastructure costs are known and addressed, any financial decisions need to be conservative,” says Stephen Ison, board member with Grumpy Taxpayer$.
Nationally, the Canadian Infrastructure Report (2016) puts the dollar replacement value of assets in poor and very poor condition at $10,000 a household (Page 12). In Victoria there are 49,212 private households according to the 2016 census.
That provides a rough estimate of almost $500 million for its infrastructure deficit, although it may be more since Victoria is considered an older city. The report included costs for potable water, wastewater, stormwater, roads, bridges, buildings, sport and rec facilities and transit.
City of Victoria was one of the few major jurisdictions not to participate in the Canadian Infrastructure Report.