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City departments pitch plans

Mayor and council get updates from all city departments on immediate and long-term plans.
Councillors Ron Popoff and Tom Shypitka take in a budget presentation from Charlotte Osborne

City departments got the chance to pitch their five year plans to city council this week, as staff and elected officials holed up in chambers to crunch the numbers.

The meetings gave departments the chance to showcase their plans for the upcoming year, while also forecasting special projects coming down the pipe over the next few years.

While typical departments such as Fire and Emergency Services, Corporate Services and Public Works gave updates on their plans, council also got the opportunity to to hear from familiar faces heading up new departments such as Infrastructure Planning and Delivery and the Office of Innovation and Collaboration.

Some big-ticket items, especially under Infrastructure Planning and Delivery, carry some hefty price tags, however, some of those projects — especially ones five years from now — are simply topics for discussion, for now, says Mayor Lee Pratt.

"2017 is the real value, 2018 is we know that things are coming on stream, so we want to be aware of that," said Pratt. "Anything past that, it's definitely a large moving target and there are things that are there that we can start the groundwork on now to prevent a big expense, but if we're not aware of it, then of course, we don't, so it's good to know that there are some things out there and we can start preparing for it."

Infrastructure Planning and Delivery will get a lot of attention due to election promises to fix local roads and underlying infrastructure.

2017 is getting a huge injection of funding due to the approval of a $10 million loan that is going towards the city's road program.

The city is anticipating $9.5 million for roadwork, while $2.5 million is earmarked for water main replacements.

Looking down the department's five year plan, there are some eye-popping projects.

A transfer pipeline upgrade for spray irrigation is tentatively scheduled in 2019 at $6 million, while a potential water treatment plant could be coming up in 20121 at $20 million.

However, pump the brakes before thinking that the city is going to be moving forward on those.

According to Joe McGowan, the Director of Infrastructure Planning and Delivery, and Mike Matejka, the department's project manager, those two projects aren't necessarily a surefire thing.

Using cameras, Matejka says the city can inspect the existing transfer pipeline and repair any sections in danger of failing, instead of having to replace the entire line, while McGowan notes that his department is undertaking a study of water quality over a few years to establish and identify water quality trends.

The study will help the city address ways to ensuring water quality without necessarily having to build a $20 million water treatment plant, McGowan added.

Leisure Services is looking to replace the roof at Western Financial Place over the next two years at a cost of $3 million.

Looking ahead, the WHL is requiring all arenas to have video replay scoreboards in all franchise arenas by 2019, while other projects include a de-humidification system and replacing the arena board system.

Much of the infrastructure upgrades in facilities such as Western Financial Place, the Memorial and Kinsmen Arenas, along with the Cranbrook Curling Centre, are eligible for grant funding, according to New.

Fire and Emergency Services responded to 1,500 requests for service in 2016, 1,000 of which were medical in nature.

Firefighters also made 1,200 inspections, with Director Wayne Price reporting there was a 100 per cent success rate after following up with homes or businesses that weren't compliant.

Staffing is currently at 23 full-time employees with two in administration.

As far as 2017 goes, the Fire and Emergency Services is looking at replacing a fire engine at the cost of $670,000, as the current vehicle has reached the end of it's 20-year life span.

Later down the road in 2019, the department is also planning to replace the ladder truck, which will cost $1.4 million.

"I think this new process of having the directors come and explain what they do and what their needs are and what we can count on for the next couple years especially, was very important," added Pratt. "It was some comfort to the councillors, where before, we were just told that we need $400,00 for this.

"Okay, you want it, but do you need it? This year we had a lot of lead up time prioritizing things, the directors were all told that, and they came up with their budget on a needs basis and were told that you're going to have to justify this and they did a great job with it."

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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