City eyes new solutions for crumbling roads

Potholes, sinkholes, and cracks are just a few of the problems plaguing Regina's residential roadways. File / Global News

Sinkholes, potholes, cracks, and a lack of sidewalks are just some of the problems plaguing roughly 136 kilometres of Regina roads.

A July city report shows they could be fixed in about 36 years, but residents and city councillors say there must be a faster solution.

“Some of them look like they’re in a war zone,” Ward 1 Councillor Barbara Young said. “We need to come up with a reasonable time frame for fixing the poorest of the poor roads; the ones you can’t bicycle on, or it’s difficult to walk on, and driving is very difficult. A lot of cars have been damaged.”

For now, city administration is being sent back to the drawing board to find new solutions.

“The motion doesn’t speak to raise taxes,” Mayor Michael Fougere explained. “It talks about re-calibrating the amount of money we use for the one per cent (mill rate) and how it’s portioned between poor roads, regular roads, and preventative maintenance.”

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The city first tried to tackle the issue four years ago with a one per cent mill rate fund.

READ MORE: Regina City Council appoves budget with 4.34 per cent mill rate increase

“After three years we realized it wasn’t getting rid of the backlog of poor roads,” Young added. “It was doing maintenance though, which is good because a lack of maintenance is what’s gotten us into this problem.”

The money raised by the tax is split between residential roads rated good, fair, and poor. The  residential road renewal program review delved into shifting the allocation of money between those roads.

At a July 7 meeting, the public works and infrastructure committee put forth a new option: dedicate 10 per cent of the funding to ‘good roads’, 45 per cent to ‘fair’ roads, 45 per cent to ‘poor’ roads, and add an additional one per cent mill rate increase for five years.

The additional money from the mill rate would only be used for poor roads, split between the street itself and underground utility. In this scenario, it would take 25 years for 84 per cent of Regina’s residential roads to be rated ‘fair’ or better.

Residents from the city’s south end packed Monday’s city council meeting to voice their displeasure with long-standing awful road conditions in their neighbourhoods.

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READ MORE: Potholes spring eternal amid warm weather in Regina

Brian Black, who serves on several community associations, says he feels some hope after attending the meeting, but action is coming too late for some of his former neighbours.

“People have mentioned to me the roads are in such poor shape, they have mobility issues and they’ve had to go to an area where they can get around on sidewalks and roads that are in better shape.”

Council warns it will be a delicate balancing act as they try to repair poor roads without letting streets that are currently fine fall into disrepair, or else face having the same conversation years down the line.

It’s hoped the new report will be submitted by the time councillors start preparing the 2019 City budget.

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