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City sells 206 street lights to Fortis Alberta

Sale nets the city about $540,000
2202-street-light-sale
JOHN LUCAS/St. Albert Gazette

The City of St. Albert sold more of its street light infrastructure to Fortis Alberta last summer, netting the city about $540,000.

The sale of 206 street lights expands the city's long-held agreement with the electricity distributor. Fortis Alberta now owns and maintains at least 6,000 street lights in St. Albert. As part of the agreement, Fortis is responsible for maintaining the lights and responding to any outages, while the city is responsible for paying the electricity cost.

The city's manager of transportation, Dean Schick, said 172 of the lights are along Ray Gibbon Drive; 23 are on Rodeo Drive and in the Kinsmen RV Park; six are in Red Willow Park; and five surround Grandin Pond.

“Administration reviewed [Fortis' offer] and made a recommendation to approve this in recognition of: the existing age and condition of assets; the rising costs to maintain assets outside of the Fortis service agreement; [and] the opportunity to align and improve the city’s overall asset management strategic planning and responses,” Schick wrote in an email.

Schick said the city still owns and maintains some of its street light infrastructure, such as the lights directly attached to traffic signals.

“The City is not able to provide an estimate of savings as the financial review accounted for the average annual maintenance costs each year versus the service agreement costs with Fortis Alberta,” Schick said.

Fortis spokesperson Tanya Croft said the additional 206 street lights is a drop in the company's overall bucket, since it owns and maintains over 118,000 street lights in more than 240 municipalities throughout the province.

“Street light management is part of our routine maintenance program,” Croft said. “We offer routine maintenance of our street light infrastructure which includes patrol of lamps, photo-eye controls, painting of poles, vandalism, vehicle impact, cable fault, and inspections.”

Croft wasn't able to break down exactly how much work and money the company needs to invest in its inventory on annual basis, but said “the amount of labour required is dependent on individual requirements.”

“Regular patrolling allows us to identify and resolve issues to ensure we keep the lights on,” she said.

The $540,000 sale was a small factor in the city's $4.58 million 2023 surplus, according to the city's fourth-quarter report.

The surplus, which council elected on Feb. 13 to split evenly between two reserves, was mainly a result of the community and recreation services and the public operations departments finishing the year substantially under budget.

Community and recreation services finished 2023 almost $1.5 million under budget, largely as a result of saving $819,000 in staff salaries as a result of job vacancies, as well better-than-expected revenue from recreation facility admission and lesson fees.

Another factor in the department's surplus was the $250,000 Sturgeon County gave the city as part of the three-year recreation cost-sharing agreement the two municipalities signed in April.

The public operations department, meanwhile, finished 2023 $2.1 million under budget, largely because of $700,000 in savings on fuel since diesel prices were lower than expected for much of the year, and because the department saved $853,000 on snow clearing and street sanding because of the reduced need.

The city's planning and engineering department was the only department to finish the year over budget, but the overage was limited to the city spending $194,000 more than expected to Fortis Alberta to power the city's street lights.


Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

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