A better way to patch potholes — is there such a thing?
There just might be. One items added into the City of Cranbrook’s proposed draft of the Five Year Financial Plan is $350,000 set aside for a pothole repair machine. The machine city staff are currently researching is a made-in-Canada pothole repair vehicle.
Mayor Lee Pratt asked for the funds to be set aside at the March 4 budget meeting.
“I don’t know if this is the appropriate time or not, but it may need to be entered into the budget this year,” Pratt said. “There’s been a piece of equipment that’s come up that is basically newer technology for pothole repair.”
Pratt said the city’s Public Works Department is looking into it right now.
“There is quite a number of benefits in this if it does what it says,” Pratt said. “It can result in quite a cost saving and much-improved pothole repair system for the city.”
Pratt asked about the procedure for setting the funding aside in the case that it does look like a good idea to purchase the machine.
Charlotte Osbourne, director of Finance and Computer Services, said she preferred that council budget the funds now, instead of having to go back later to amend the financial plan bylaw. Osbourne said the funds would come out of the Recapitalization Reserve, so there would be no impact on taxes.
“What I might recommend, because it is new still, is that once Public Works has done their research, that they report back to council before any purchase is initiated,” she said. “That way council can say, ‘yes, we still think it’s a good idea,’ or ‘no, it’s not.'”
She said that this way as soon as council sees the report it can make a decision and allow Public Works to begin a tender process.
Pratt noted that the machine costs about $320,000. Osbourne suggested they set aside $350,000.
“It does take our pothole repair from a three-man operation to a one-man operation. It has a big safety factor, because the person never exits the vehicle. The big part of it that Public Works is interested at looking at, is the fact that it’s a one man operation — he can go down the road and fix the smaller potholes on a street before it gets much bigger.”
CAO Wayne Staudt agreed with putting the item in the budget and the funding from the reserve. The Recapitalization Reserve is used to buy equipment when needed.
Staudt said that Derick Anderson, from Public Works would be heading to Saskatchewan to see one of the machines there.
“The one he’s going to see is actually manufactured in Regina,” Staudt said.
According to a April 2013 CBC story, the City of Edmonton was looking at the Python 5000, which is manufactured in Regina. The city of Regina itself, at that time, had done a trial with the machine, but then gone back to traditional pothole patching crews.
The Python machine is used in several U.S. states, as well as Brazil and India for pothole repair.