YORKTON - It is interesting to read Yorkton Mayor Mitch Hippsley response to attending FCM’s Annual Conference and Trade Show held in Regina earlier this month.
It was rather clear (see related story Page A1), the mayor was surprised by the commonality of issues for municipalities across Canada, which is perhaps not surprising given that municipalities at times must feel as if they operate in a certain amount of isolation.
Certainly there are organizations such as FCM and SUMA provincially, but come a Monday evening meeting there are only seven elected to Council making decisions on a budget worth tens of millions of dollars.
It is big money, but how they invest that money impacts not just the city today, and their political hopes for re-election, but what our community will look like in the years ahead. As an example, Yorkton would look rather different today without the last Gallagher Centre upgrade and expansion.
Yorkton Council is also keenly aware no matter how sharp their pencils are they will not have all the money that should be invested each year, and residents know when the money runs out by every bounce through a pothole their vehicle makes on city streets.
In that regard Yorkton is not unique.
As Hippsley noted infrastructure deficits are common place in Canada and municipalities have come to a point they patch where possible, while understanding they are never likely to catch up.
That has to be one of the scariest things for Hippsley to fully realize coming out of the FCM conference. Here was an event bringing together hundreds of people involved in municipal government who recognize deficits in infrastructure is a critical issue, but none offered up anything new in terms of how to address the funding shortfall in a meaningful way.
It has become a problem too big for any level of government to fund sufficiently, and that leaves a foreboding question – what happens when the aging water and sewer lines in particular begin to collapse with even greater regularity?
Common sense says that every pipe has a time when age will cause it to fail. Many have already far exceeded what expectations of serviceability were, but one day they will crack, break, collapse. The question is when, not if, it will happen.
It’s a question delegates to FCM have had to be asking for years now, and still no reasonable answer has presented itself.
While there has to be some solace in knowing Yorkton is not alone in facing the problem, it has to also be disheartening to know a reasonable answer remains yet unfound.