Editorial: One for the road

What does it take for a small community like Burns Lake to get new roads?

A recent article in the Lakes District News, entitled “Filling in the cracks on Eighth Avenue” prompted some heartfelt responses from readers on Facebook who are clearly fed up with the craters and cracks.

“How can you fill something in if next to nothing is there?” asked one commenter. Another even suggested tearing up the pavement and going back to gravel roads if the village can’t find a way to pay for an overhaul of the holey streets.

Indeed, cash is at the heart of the matter.

The relatively modest project described in that article — resurfacing two blocks of badly beaten-up pavement — would set the village back to the tune of $372,000. That’s the route that was chosen by council at their April 24 meeting.

The village has said that Eighth Avenue is structurally sound. But it’s reasonable to wonder if repaving these worn-out streets is just cosmetic — lipstick on a pig, as it were.

That raises the specter of a massive investment: it would cost an estimated $3 million to rebuild Eighth Avenue alone, including an overhaul of the foundation, along with new water lines, sewer lines and storm drains. Rebuilding the streets of Burns Lake in this way would surely cost tens of millions, if not more.

The Eighth Avenue project is part of a five-year plan to gradually repave ten troublesome stretches of road.

But village staff has acknowledged that after a hard winter, that list is looking patchy. And one imagines that the list will only grow, just as surely as the seasons will change.

This leaves the village in a difficult position. It was rejected — not once, but twice — by the Strategic Priorities Fund, a major source of infrastructure money administered by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).

In the most recent round of applications, 112 projects received approval, allowing communities across B.C. to tap into a pool of $190 million in funding that comes from a tax on every litre of fuel at the pump.

Burns Lake’s request for $2.7 million for Eighth Avenue was among the other 108 projects that were rejected.

Asked about how these decisions are made, UBCM director of communications Paul Taylor said that provincial engineering staff review the applications and give them a score “based on technical merit in accordance with program guidelines.”

Those scores form the basis of recommendations given to a management committee for the fund — made up partly of officials from the federal and provincial governments, but mostly UBCM staff. “Because there is a limit on the funding available, the projects with the highest scores receive funding,” Taylor said.

It’s demoralizing to be constantly rejected. And it raises important questions about how these applications are being assessed. What does a small community like Burns Lake need to do before it can get some support?

Just Posted

Climate change, economy and reconciliation take centre stage at Oct. 15 All-Candidates Forum

Six of the eight candidates were in attendance at the Smithers event

New meat truck in town

Priestly Meats shows off its new meat truck, set up beside Tech… Continue reading

Celebrating fall in Burns Lake

Dozens of residents came out for the Fall Festival at Wild Roots… Continue reading

No timeline for ultrasound in Burns Lake, NH says

Northern Health (NH) is considering introducing ultrasound technology to the Lakes District… Continue reading

Burns Lake biathlete wins grant again

Biathlete Emily Dickson, formerly of Burns Lake was selected on Oct. 7… Continue reading

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations court battle against RioTinto Alcan to start next week

Saik’uz and Stellat’en First Nations are taking Rio Tinto Alcan to court over their functioning of the Kenney Dam that affects the Nechako River

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Most Read