New approach needed to deal with weathered infrastructure: Halifax mayor

HALIFAX – A first-of-its-kind report is shedding a pretty grim light on the state of municipal infrastructure in Canada.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities collected data from 123 municipalities and found the country’s infrastructure could be in need of more than $170 billion in repairs.

Although the report only provides national statistics and doesn’t break the numbers down by individual location, Mayor Peter Kelly says it validates what Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has been saying for years.

He thinks it could cost even more than the report suggests to fix everything that needs work – not just in HRM, but Canada.

“If you add the roads and those three components of water (drinking water, waste water and storm water infrastructure), we’re well over $200 billion across the country,” Kelly said Monday. “And I think that’s still a bit on the lower side.”

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According to the report, more than half the roads in Canada fall below good condition, with about 21 per cent of them rated between poor and very poor.

Read the full report below. 

Last week in Halifax, a large sinkhole opened up on a busy downtown intersection, at Cornwallis St. and Barrington St. That was the second one in the same vicinity in just seven days.

Officials later determined the cause of the sinkholes that was a broken water pipe.
The three areas of water infrastructure fared better in the survey, but still require a lot of attention.

On top of that, many institutions are dealing with old and failing infrastructure – such as schools, hospitals and public buildings.

Old water pipes at Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital are blamed for the presence of Legionella bacteria, a problem the facility has had since the mid-1980s.

“It was at a time when Legionella wasn’t even known about,” said Dr. Lynn Johnston, head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. “So, people weren’t looking at plumbing strategies to prevent Legionella in hospital at that time.

The hope for Victoria General Hospital is to start fresh with a new building.

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Meanwhile, Kelly hopes municipalities will also be able to start fresh, with a new approach to deal with faltering infrastructure.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “We have to work with our partners, in particular the federal government and the provinces.”

He said partnerships with the private sector should also be looked at.

Read Volume 1 of the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card 


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