Edmonton city council has unanimously approved a complete redo of all of the back lanes over the next couple of decades. They’ve decided to go as aggressively as possible, choosing the more expensive of two options, and then going a couple of million dollars more than first proposed.
A report detailed the sad state of back alleys across the city, and gave city council an option of spending $18.6 million, or $20 million to cover the cost over 25 years. Council opted for spending as much as $22 million to get the job done more quickly.
“They’re terrible,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters. “There’s no doubt that the back lanes in a lot of cases were paved over an inadequate base so they have a structural weakness to them.
“They were designed to last twenty years and some of them were paved forty, fifty, or sixty years ago, so it’s no surprise that they’re kind of reverting to gravel slowly.”
For the so-called typical home owner Iveson said you’ll see a cost increase equal to maybe an expensive latte.
“Four bucks in year one, another four bucks in year two another four bucks in year three and another four bucks in year four and then sixteen dollars a year going forward buys you certainty that, at some point, we’re going to come fix the lane.”
When they’ll come remains a question. Craig Walbaum, the director of traffic operations said a couple of years of planning need to be done.
“It’s going to be longer than two years for sure,” he told council during the debate.
“We’re just going to begin to fix those in two years.”
“I’m just trying to put it from their perspective,” Councillor Michael Oshry said. “If they’ve got an alley that’s in terrible shape, are they going to have to live with those for five more years?”
“That’s a reality that is likely the case for a lot. As we try to ramp up this program and get going on it,” Walbaum said.
This is the same type of program as neighborhood renewal. Specific tax money is set aside, and earmarked for the work.
“We’ll prioritize based on urgency and based on the ability to piggy back on other work that’s nearby for maximum efficiency,” Iveson said.