The City of Rossland has received a mandate from the citizens for the go ahead of the project to replace the infrastructure on the main street and it only makes sense that we replace the old worn out infrastructure before we repave the roadway.
The question now becomes, at what cost? Not only in the money we pay in our taxes but more importantly, in the disruption and potential bankruptcies to our business community.
Why? Because on the main street some of the piping is between 20 and 26 feet underground, the hole necessary to access these pipes will be a ditch down the main street 45 feet wide and estimated at a cost of a million dollars by the Ministry of Highways.
THAT’S JUST FOR THE DITCH. Our main street will be unusable during this entire time.
City Council needs to make sure the engineers we hire look at the big picture and come up with an alternatively less disruptive and less costly system. The only reason we need that deep a sewer line is so a few basements along the main street can discharge into it by gravity.
Let’s get creative, save the million dollars, just install new pipes four feet down, below the frost line and install septic pumps in those affected basements. We do not need the services any deeper than that with modern technology. The cost savings should be huge, the disruption far more minimal and our main street will not be closed all summer this way.
A huge bonus to all citizens.
However, the biggest change the City needs to make is in the location of these services. Rossland’s main street has full length back alleys. The main reason for a back alley is as a “service lane” which is where we should install all the lines we can possibly fit.
This is where every other municipality puts its infrastructure if possible, why not us?
At present only BC Gas is underground there and the portion behind the old Bank of Montreal has a storm line.
There is room in the alley for at least some of the necessary upgrades; put the pressure water line there, and possibly the sewer line as well. Then the main street only has storm water drainage lines which are 75 percent paid for by the Ministry according to the City.
The added benefits of doing this are substantial. The next time we need to access them for repairs we do not need to dig up the Main Street and sidewalks, so it will be much less expensive or invasive in the future.
The down time of our main street for this construction will be much shorter and have far less impact on our business Community and our lives. Possibly saving us several bankruptcies as well.
This way we can install the new infrastructure first before we touch the main street for storm drainage and repaving, meaning it becomes a construction zone for a much shorter duration, a huge benefit to the community as a whole.
If necessary, Rossland would be wise to use some of the potential million dollars we can save from the front street ditch, even if it costs more to install the piping in the service lane because it is the better and less expensive option long term. .
Our main street is Rossland’s largest employer by far--something the Council would be wise to keep in mind during the planning process. It is essential to our economic well being for the future.
Our city councillors and planning department need to get this right the first time; we can not afford another reservoir debacle, have our main street look like an open pit mine for the entire summer or pay unnecessary millions extra due to bad design and a lack of innovative planning or foresight.
To my knowledge putting the infrastructure in the alley where it belongs has never even been discussed by council, yet it is the single biggest and most important decision they will make as councillors. The future of Rosslands’s tourism growth and possibly the affordability and long term viability of the community is at stake here.
Let’s hope they get it right.