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City proposes $50.6M for 2025 repair, maintenance projects

Projects range from wastewater lift station renewals to new gym equipment at Servus Place

Just over $50 million is being proposed for repair, maintain, and replacement (RMR) projects in 2025, St. Albert city council heard on May 14.

Each year, council is presented with an RMR budget, which covers spending to maintain existing city infrastructure and equipment, ahead of the overall budget to determine how much money the city can budget for non-maintenance related projects, which are generally referred to as capital or growth projects.

Because the RMR program is limited to projects that maintain city service levels, administration assumes a 1.5 per cent property tax increase when preparing each annual budget for council's consideration. Costs to maintain municipal infrastructure and equipment continue to increase year-over-year as the community grows and more infrastructure and equipment requires maintenance.

The draft 2025 RMR budget, presented to the standing committee of the whole on May 14, totals $50.6 million to cover 33 projects, 25 of which are capital projects, while the remaining eight are utility (wastewater, stormwater, tap water, and solid waste) projects.

In an interview, Coun. Ken MacKay said the annual RMR budget always comes with a “scary number” when it comes to overall cost, but none of the projects or maintenance programs are unusual.

“Infrastructure may be not that interesting to some, but it's such a it's such a necessary requirement and I think we manage it really well,” he said. “There's really nothing there that would be unusual or out of the ordinary.”

“Everything has a lifecycle, so this just prepares us for ongoing maintenance costs.”

Compared to last year's projections, the 2025 RMR capital projects are set to cost about $900,000 more than expected, largely as a result of the increased funding needed to purchase replacement public transit buses, which council approved earlier this month. However, another factor in the $900,000 increase is an additional $500,000 needed to repair the Children's Bridge downtown.

Repairs on the Children's Bridge, which including the additional $500,000 will total $755,000, were originally scheduled to take place in 2024, but a report to council about the draft RMR budget says the funds designated for the Children's Bridge this year are being used to repair the Perron Street and St. Albert Trail Sturgeon River crossings. Those were deemed a higher priority, as costs for those two bridges are now higher than expected.

Coun. Sheena Hughes said she was glad to see the overall RMR budget proposed for next year is similar cost-wise compared to previous years.

“On average, the amount we're paying for infrastructure over a 10-year period is fairly stable,” she said. 

Hughes also mentioned she is hesitant to put motions forward to add anything to the RMR budget next year, but plans to ask administration whether the $275,000 budgeted for trail maintenance next year is enough.

“I love the trails, but it's not cheap,” she said. “If they're not right by a road, which often they're not, they have to bring everything in on golf carts and those kind of things to get to the location that needs to be addressed.”

Other RMR capital projects scheduled for next year include just over $1 million worth of minor upgrades and equipment maintenance at Servus Credit Union Place, including dressing room rehabilitation at the ice rinks and upgraded fitness equipment; and just over $9 million in various road, parking lot, and sidewalk maintenance projects, although the project charters don't provide specific examples.

For utility projects, last year's projection for 2025 spending was $1.7 million lower than the draft RMR budget presented to the standing committee of the whole on May 14, mainly because one of the city's 15 wastewater lift stations needs “immediate and emergent upgrades” that weren't previously scheduled.

The lift station in question, called the Twilight Lift Station, is located on Sturgeon Road.

“The existing lift station is more than 30 years old and the equipment within the building is close to the end of its useful life,” the project charter reads.

“Pending construction materials and design, wastewater lift station building structures have an estimated useful life of 50 years, the major mechanical and electrical systems within are estimated to have an approximate 25-year life, whilst instrumentation and pumping components are estimated to only have an [approximate] seven-year life on average.”

The project charter says design and construction of the lift station renewal is budgeted to be $2.85 million.

The draft RMR budget shows other utility projects scheduled for next year include almost $3.5 million worth of maintenance to wastewater mains and pipes throughout the city, as well as $4 million worth of maintenance or replacement of existing water lines.

Council has until May 24 to submit motions to make changes to the 2025 RMR budget, and the budget will be back in front of council on June 4 for approval.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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