All of Cowichan’s municipalities are struggling with infrastructure and how to pay for it.
That’s why it came as good news that the province is distributing $21 million to the Cowichan Valley area from the Growing Communities Fund specifically for infrastructure.
North Cowichan is earmarked for $7.7 million, while the CVRD will see $5.6 million, Ladysmith $3.4 million, Duncan $2.1 million, and Lake Cowichan $1.9 million.
While these are large sums of money, the reality is that the needs are even greater, and this funding, while helpful, will come nowhere near covering them.
Our communities are growing and this requires more infrastructure to meet growing demand for things such as water and sewer.
At the same time a lot of infrastructure, including buildings, vehicles and more, is nearing the point in its lifespan where it must either be replaced or undergo significant repairs.
While home assessments have skyrocketed, many people are struggling with rising costs for everything from food to gas to insurance. Increases to property taxes to pay for the increasing need to renovate and replace is a very real hardship for some.
In Lake Cowichan the infrastructure bill is coming due, so to speak, on everything from roads and sidewalks to the town hall and the sewer system and wastewater treatment plant.
The City of Duncan is dealing with a growing population and all the needs that come with it.
In North Cowichan there’s a new RCMP station being built, a new fire hall needed in Crofton, new garbage trucks needed, and any number of other priorities.
The CVRD and its electoral areas have a plethora of community halls and water and sewer systems, not to mention parks and trails, and the increasing role it will have with regard to recreation facilities.
There’s no doubt we’ve hit a very expensive time for local governments as well.
And we can’t just not replace and repair stuff. When we neglect these needs they just get worse, compounding over time. A small repair can turn into a large repair if it’s not done with alacrity. It can even mean having to replace rather than do what would have been a cheaper repair.
And as for costs for things like construction, we all know they don’t tend to decrease over time, but rather jump substantially. A $6 million project left for five years is suddenly a $15 million project.
There isn’t a no-worries solution here. Substantial grants certainly help. Ongoing grants would be even better.