Council Comment: Andrew Zwicker

Rossland, like most municipalities across the country, is facing a vast, expensive and critical-to-get-right problem.

Rossland, like most municipalities across the country, is facing a vast, expensive and critical-to-get-right problem. At its most simple explanation, our critical systems are breaking faster than we’ve repaired or replaced them and the cost to catch up is often more than can be reasonably collected.

What if you could build infrastructure that had an ability to either repair and regenerate itself, or even pay for a portion of itself over time?

Sure, we could simply continue to replace the pipes and roads as they break, and we will. Yes the new pipes will last much longer, but ultimately they will fail again, need to be replaced and we’re back in the same boat only with a little more time to save. A new way of looking at tackling the age-old, and ever-expanding problem of infrastructure debt and how to pay for it is becoming critical.

I’ve started collectively calling that solution “Renewable infrastructure.” There are many folks out there coming at the problem from many angles and it’s now crossing that threshold into everyday adoption.

You’ve got folks in Dartmouth, NS uncovering and rebuilding a downtown river that was put into a pipe in the 70’s saving the cost of maintaining and replacing the pipe, not to mention the downtown revitalization and environmental enhancement. Daylighting more portions of Trail Creek is part of Rossland’s sustainability plan.

You have the folks in Portland installing significant multi-megawatt hydro turbines in their water mains, helping to pay much of the cost of replacing the line down the road. Rossland has recently included an in-waterline hydro turbine generating system in the Washington Street rebuild project in our grant application. While not a massive sum of money, it would be significant over the life of the pipe in helping to pay for its own replacement.

Locally we have the Rossland Society for Environmental Action reclaiming the north end of Jubilee Park into a natural wetland. A $20,000 grant plus hard work, sweat and innovative thinking will hopefully help do what a century of manmade infrastructure has struggled to do well: slowing down water runoff and easing loads on existing infrastructure while enhancing and beautifying the area in the process.

You’ve likely seen the solar roads video that made the social media rounds. Roads made from solar panels that put energy back into the grid using a portion to melt snow reducing plowing expense and generating revenue? That type of thinking is exactly what renewable infrastructure is all about. The City of Rossland is actively using renewable options wherever possible as we play infrastructure catch-up.

Besides, no one ever sat back and admired the invisible piped river running through their neighbourhood. Coming this fall in Jubilee Park, we’ll have a beautiful new form of infrastructure where you’ll be able to do just that. Sit, enjoy, and ponder the possibilities of more to come.

To learn more about how we’re planning to pay for it all, come to Rossland’s financial plan meeting on Monday, April 27 at 6 p.m.

Andrew Zwicker

Rossland city councillor

 

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