If it's spring it's also pothole season and District of Houston crews are out filling them up. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

Annual pothole patrol starts

Maintaining roads outstrips District’s financial means

The District of Houston’s roads are wearing out a faster pace than it can afford to replace or repair them.

And to meet a recommended annual road works budget of $1.5 million a year, the District would either have to raise taxes by 30 per cent or cut other services by the same amount to free up cash for the work.

These and other figures were contained in a lengthy memo from District chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck in outlining the District’s financial position and the condition of its roads.

As it is, the District relies on an annual federal grant financed through gas taxes for road works and, for the past two years, a grant from the province that the District can spend as it sees fit on projects.

The federal gas tax grant for this year for Houston has been pegged at $181,000 and a plan to double that amount awaits parliamentary approval. Council will then decide how to use that additional amount, said Pinchbeck.

“While it is a welcome source of funding, there is still a sizeable funding gap to cross in order to ensure a high level of rehabilitation occurs,” he said.

Without the provincial Northern Capital and Planning Grant, which amounted to just over $6.5 million for 2019 and 2020, “the infrastructure funding deficit and rehabilitation backlog will continue to grow,” Pinchbeck added.

“Paved road surfaces typically follow a 13-15 year lifecycle, and timing of the repair/rehabilitation works determines the longevity of the base structure,” he noted in saying both paved surfaces and gravel bases require work.

The council has discussed the idea of converting the District’s rural roads to gravel or double chip-seal as opposed to asphalt as one way of addressing aging asphalt surfaces and subsurfaces.

That’s been the approach on Pioneer, Estates and Gushwa but “this is not a final decision which has been made by council and no financing was allocated towards it,” said Pinchbeck.

The comprehensive information comes as District crews prepare to start the annual effort to fill in potholes that are appearing with the arrival of spring.

A first order of 3.34 metres tonnes of repair material at a cost of $1,750 will be used immediately with another purchase planned for late summer to repair additional potholes before the next winter hits.

Last year 6.87 metric tonnes was purchased at a cost of $4,544.39 with 1.38 metric tonnes purchased in 2019 at a cost of $6,013.73, 7.6 metric tonnes at $7,526.40 in 2018, 12.8 metric tons at $12,230.40 in 2017 and 3.8 metric tons at $3,575.03 in 2016.

And beginning this year, a new tracking program introduced by the District will begin to give it annual totals of how many potholes were filled.

“Over time, this system will provide a better historical assessment for the number of potholes reported, repaired and recurring on a year-over-year basis,” said Pinchbeck.

This year the District is also asking people to report in with pothole locations so crews know where to go.

That’s resulted in an ongoing list of locations with residents generally referring to the large number of potholes being encountered every day.

For overall road repairs as part of annual operations, the District is now allocating at least $100,000 a year, a base figure that is rising to $136,100 this year and to a planned $170,600 by 2025.

The two-year Northern Capital and Planning Grant did enable the District to increase expenditures on larger projects — $608,854 in 2019 and $438,957 last year. Last year’s figure did not include money assigned from that provincial grant to the District’s major 9th Street underground and surface rehabilitation and beautification project.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

In the past, the pitch-in days saw the community working together to clean-up unlike this year, when they will be encouraged to stay in their own bubbles. (Shiela Pepping photo/Houston Today)
Houston to pitch-in on Apr. 22

The Houston & District Chamber of Commerce’s 60th pitch-in day

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read