Road sections such as this on Sooke Road near Dover Street are crumbling away following a rough winter.

Sooke wants to borrow $1 million for road repairs

Major road work needed after harsh winter, says district staff

Sooke council will float a post-budget proposal to borrow $1 million as the district focuses on the town’s crumbling roads.

The condition of roads urgently came back to council following a long and unforgiving winter season, which left entire stretches of the municipality’s infrastructure riddled with potholes, bumps, cracks and mini-craters.

Before any process starts, the district first requires a condition assessment report investigating what roads need work. At that point, council and staff will figure out which roads to focus on.

Council will then borrow up to $1 million from the Municipal Finance Authority and the work will begin.

“The million is to get us kicked started on a road maintenance program,” said Rob Howatt, director of development services.

The capital project would be paid off through capital reserve funds.

Howatt identified 11 roads, initially assessed in 2008, that were in a “poor” state, and now considered “very poor” in what boils down to around 6.6 kilometers of roads that need improvement.

With a paving cost of $177,000 per kilometre, it’s not cheap, but neither is losing the road altogether.

“This winter just kicked the crap out of our roads. If we don’t do something quick, we’re going to lose what we got,” Howatt said.

Still, it doesn’t sit too well with Coun. Rick Kasper, who criticized the move, calling it “a blank cheque” due to scarce details showing which roads need repair.

“I can’t support this, I don’t think it’s good business. We do it with a specific purpose, because you have to clearly demonstrate to the taxpayers why you’re pouring money, where and how it’s going to be spent,” Kasper said.

Either way, a defined list, which first needs to be approved by council and the MFA, is required for any borrowing to occur, said district chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan.

“We’re not borrowing for any blank cheque. The list of projects will be determined after we come back to council after the study is done to get council’s OK regarding what that list is,” she said, adding that if the $1 million isn’t approved, the district will have to do a budget amendment, which slows down the progress significantly.

“We’re trying to be cognizant of the service requests in this community, and they’re not just requests, their demands, for us, as the leaders of this community, to start dealing with our road issues.”

The report is expected later this month.

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